Air transport comprises both scheduled and chartered categories and in some parts of the world, air taxies.
In the development of international tourism, air transport has played the most important role. The multibillion dollar airlines industry has a very humble beginning.
In Europe, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries one dare not think of flight because the Church considered it to be against the Laws of God.
The beginning of the jet travel in 1958 was the most dramatic event which gave a new dimension of speed, comfort and efficiency to air travel.
The North Atlantic route the golden route of tourist traffic saw the introduction of excursion fares in 1948, family fares in 1955, economy class fares in 1967 affinity group fares in 1963, group inclusive tour fares in 1967, youth fares in 1972 and apex fares in 1975. Despite rising fuel costs, as a result of these innovations in air travel, fares actually declined.
International air travel is regulated by International Air Transport Association (IATA) with its head office in Montreal in Canada. It was established in 1945. IATA has 105 major airlines of the world as its members.
IATA regulates the prices of air tickets in different areas of travel in the world. All international air fares are decided by the IATA but domestic fares are the concern of the respective governments.
The air fares are determined on different considerations like the volume and traffic demand in an area, level of competition, etc. For example, the air fares between Europe and America are lower in terms of mileage compared to the same distance between London and Delhi.
It is simply because the volume of traffic on the London-Delhi route is not as high as on the London-New York route.
There are two types of airlines scheduled and chartered. Scheduled airlines are so called because they fly according to regular schedules. The non-scheduled airlines are called charter airlines. The charter flight operates only when there is a demand.
Airlines may be classified into two broad categories. Small careers that operate aircraft with fewer than 30 seats are defined as commuter airlines. Larger careers that fly direct routes between major cities are called major airlines.
To attract more passengers, airlines are offering cheaper promotional fares. Excursion fares and group fares are examples of such promotional fares.
Excursion fares are provided to the tourists on the basis of return journey and have conditions of minimum and maximum stay at the destination. The passenger must spend at least 10 days in the country where he is going.
Restriction is applied to dissuade business executive who normally visits a country for three to four days but excursion fare involves a minimum stay of ten days, hence the businessman cannot avail the cheap excursion fare.
Group fares are applicable to groups and are discounted by 20 to 40 per cent. Hence again the restriction is that at least 10 persons must travel together on the same itinerary. Computerised Reservation System (CRS) is a development which has revolutionized airlines marketing.
The future of air travel is bright. It is highly probable that the number of air journeys made will increase substantially.
Forecasts point to a market size before the end of the century, roughly double what it was in 1995 and that will double by 2005.
Secondly, it is likely that the industry will be less regulated, leading to more intense competition between airlines.
Thirdly, the consumer will become even more demanding both as a consequence of competition giving a greater choice and also from greater familiarity as the experience of air travel becomes steadily more widespread. The line diagram below shows the air traffic growth.