Air transport is the most recent mode of transport. It is the gift of the 20th century to the world. The two world wars gave a great impetus to the development of air transport in almost all the countries of the world. The peculiar characteristic of air transport is that is does not need a specific surface track for its operations.
It has no physical barriers as in the case of other mode of transport. Political boundaries are also immaterial although it has to observe the requirements of the International Law. The supreme advantage of air transport lies in its quickness.
It is the fastest mode of transport. But the cost of its operation is very high and thus it is suitable for only rich passengers, mails and light and costly cargo. However, in advanced countries like U.S.A., Germany, etc. it offers a tough competition to the railways.
Air transport has the following characteristics:
1. Unbroken Journey:
Air transport provides unbroken journey over land and sea. It is the fastest and quickest means of transport.
Air transport had the highest speed among all the modes of transport.
Air transport is the most expensive means of transport. There is huge investment in purchasing aero planes and constructing of aerodromes.
4. Special Preparations:
Air transport requires special preparations like wheelers links, meteorological stations, flood lights, searchlights etc.
Fastest Mode of Transport:
1. High Speed:
The supreme advantage of air transport is its high speed. It is the fastest mode of transport and thus it is the most suitable mean where time is an important factor.
2. Comfortable and Quick Services:
It provides a regular, comfortable, efficient and quick service.
3. No Investment in Construction of Track:
It does not require huge capital investment in the construction and maintenance of surface track.
4. No Physical Barriers:
It follows the shortest and direct route as seas, mountains or forests do not come in the way of air transport.
5. Easy Access:
Air transport can be used to carry goods and people to the areas which are not accessible by other means of transport.
6. Emergency Services:
It can operate even when all other means of transport cannot be operated due to the floods or other natural calamities. Thus, at that time, it is the only mode of transport which can be employed to do the relief work and provide the essential commodities of life.
7. Quick Clearance:
In air transport, custom formalities can be very quickly complied with and thus it avoids delay in obtaining clearance.
8. Most Suitable for Carrying Light Goods of High Value:
It is most suitable for carrying goods of perishable nature which require quick delivery and light goods of high value such as diamonds, bullion etc. over long distances.
9. National Defence:
Air transport plays a very important role in the defence of a country. Modern wars have been fought mainly by aeroplanes. It has upper hand in destroying the enemy in a very short period of time. It also supports over wings of defence of a country.
10. Space Exploration:
Air transport has helped the world in the exploration of space.
In spite of many advantages, air transport has the following limitations:
1. Very Costly:
It is the costliest means of transport. The fares of air transport are so high that it is beyond the reach of the common man.
2. Small Carrying Capacity:
Its carrying capacity is very small and hence it is not suitable to carry cheap and bulky goods.
3. Uncertain and Unreliable:
Air transport is uncertain and unreliable as it is controlled to a great extent by weather conditions. Unfavourable weather such as fog, snow or heavy rain etc. may cause cancellation of scheduled flights and suspension of air service.
4. Breakdowns and Accidents:
The chances of breakdowns and accidents are high as compared to other modes of transport. Hence, it involves comparatively greater risk.
5. Large Investment:
It requires a large amount of capital investment in the construction and maintenance of aeroplanes. Further, very trained and skilled persons are required for operating air service.
6. Specialised Skill:
Air transport requires a specialised skill and high degree of training for its operation.
7. Unsuitable for Cheap and Bulky Goods:
Air transport is unsuitable for carrying cheap, bulky and heavy goods because of its limited capacity and high cost.
8. Legal Restrictions:
There are many legal restrictions imposed by various countries in the interest of their own national unity and peace.
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Advantages of air transport
Following are the advantages of air transport
It is the fastest mode of transport and therefore suitable for carriage of goods over a long distance. It require less time.
Air transport provides comfortable, efficient and quick transport services. It is regarded as best mode of transport for transporting perishable goods.
No Infrastructure Investment
Air transport does not give emphasis on construction of tracks like railways. As no capital investment in surface track is needed, it is a less costly mode of transport.
Air transport is regarded as the only means of transport in those areas which are not easily accessible to other modes of transport. It is therefore accessible to all areas regardless the obstruction of land.
No Physical Barrier
Air transport is free from physical barriers because it follows the shortest and direct routes where seas, mountains and forests do not obstruct.
Aircrafts travels to any place without any natural obstacles or barriers because the custom formalities are compiled very quickly. It avoids delay in obtaining clearance.
It plays a significant role in the national defense of the country because modern wars are conducted with the help of aero planes. Airways has a upper hand a destroying the enemy in a short period.
Disadvantage of air transport
Inspite of many advantages, air transport has some disadvantage also.
Air transport is the most risky form of transport because a minor accident may put a substantial loss to the goods, passengers and the crew. The chances of accidents are greater in comparison to other modes of transport.
Air transport is considered costlier as compare to other mode of transport. The operating cost of aero-planes are higher and it involves a great deal of expenditure on the construction of aerodromes and aircraft. Because of this reason the fare of air transport are high that common people can’t afford it.
Small Carrying Capacity
The aircrafts have small carrying capacity and therefore these are not suitable for carrying bulky and cheaper goods. The load capacity cannot be increased as it is found in case of rails.
Air transport is unreliable as it depends of the weather forecast. Normally if the weather is not certain the flight may got delayed.
Air transport requires huge investment for construction and maintenance of aerodromes. It also requires trained, experienced and skilled personnel which involves a substantial investment.