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.
It is the fastest mode of transport. But the cost of its operation is very high.
Air transport has the following characteristics:
- 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.
- 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.
- Comfortable and Quick Services:
It provides a regular, comfortable, efficient and quick service.
- No Investment in Construction of Track:
It does not require huge capital investment in the construction and maintenance of surface track.
- No Physical Barriers:
It follows the shortest and direct route as seas, mountains or forests do not come in the way of air transport.
- Easy Access:
Air transport can be used to carry goods and people to the areas which are not accessible by other means of transport.
- 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.
- Quick Clearance:
In air transport, custom formalities can be very quickly complied with and thus it avoids delay in obtaining clearance.
- 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.
In spite of many advantages, air transport has the following limitations:
- Very Costly:
The fares of air transport are so high that it is beyond the reach of the common man.
- Small Carrying Capacity:
Its carrying capacity is very small and hence it is not suitable to carry cheap and bulky goods.
- 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.
- Large Investment:
It requires a large amount of capital investment in the construction and maintenance of aero-planes. Further, very trained and skilled persons are required for operating air service.
- 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.