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Breaking Down the Economic and Social Inequalities in Airport Access and Usage

Team AckoMay 5, 2023

India is one of the world's most populous countries, with around 1.3 billion people. As such, the country's airports are incredibly congested and essential for both domestic and international travel. However, the access to airports, and the usage of the facilities, conflict with the country's issues with economic and social inequality. These inequalities manifest themselves in a range of ways and adversely affect individuals, communities, and states. This article looks at the ten most significant social and economic inequalities that arise from airport access and usage in India.




1. Insufficient Access to Domestic Airports

A number of areas in India find themselves with limited or non-existent access to domestic airports. This can be especially pronounced in more isolated or rural parts of the country, which are generally more impoverished. These communities are then excluded from the benefits provided by domestic airports, such as cheaper fares, tourist expansion, and increased employment opportunities. This disconnect exacerbates the economic gap between rural and urban parts of the countries and leaves these communities in a position of inequality.

2. Spike in Prices for International Flights

For those fortunate enough to have access to an airport, the prices of flights, especially international flights, can still be prohibitive in all but the most affluent of areas. This can lead to those in poverty-stricken or rural areas paying a much higher proportion of their income for travel compared to those wealthy enough to avoid this disparity. To rectify this, the government must be encouraged to implement a series of measures to make air travel more affordable, such as discounts for those in lower-income brackets.

3. Tariff Barriers in International Airports

Increasing economic and social inequality is also present outside of India. Tariff barriers in international airports, such as high taxes and fees, disproportionately penalize those travelling to foreign nations with an already precarious financial standing. This can prevent these travelers from experiencing distinctive cultural experiences abroad, and discourage them from pursuing educational opportunities in international locations. These tariff barriers serve to exacerbate existing social and economic vulnerabilities and worsen existing inequality.

4. Poor Infrastructure in Domestic Airports

Domestic airports in India, in many cases, have the woefully inadequate infrastructure. This lack of quality infrastructure can massively inhibit accessibility for many travelers. The poor maintenance or quality of public transport near airports can stop travelers from reaching their destinations with ease. In addition, the lack of hotels and other services near many airports adds to the problem, further creating feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and powerlessness.

5. Limited Capacity in Domestic Airports

The capacity of Indian domestic airports is also limited, leading to overcrowding and reduced accessibility. This can extend to all airport services and facilities, from check-in queues, security screenings, to the immigration desk. This lack of capacity can lead to lengthy delays, increased stresses and the exclusion of certain travelers due to their financial, social or cultural standing.

6. Unaffordable Charges for Airport Travel

The cost of travel to and from domestic airports can also be highly unaffordable for many travelers. This is especially true when compared to other transport services, such as bus and rail transport. As such, travelers from lower-income or rural areas can find themselves severely disadvantaged, both in terms of the cost of the journey, and of the frequency and quality of services provided.

7. Poor Air Quality in Domestic Airports

The air quality in many domestic airports in India is below acceptable levels, leading to potential health-related issues. This can be worse in smaller airports, which are more prevalent in rural and poorer areas of the country. The poor air quality can lead to increased stress levels, exacerbating existing social and economic issues that particular individuals, families or communities may face.

8. Privatization of Domestic Airports

The privatization of domestic airports in India is yet another issue creating social and economic inequality. Prices in these private airports are often higher than those in public airports, leading to those living in less affluent areas being charged more for the same services. This privatization of essential services increases the wealth gap in the countries, leaving those from poverty-stricken or rural areas at a distinct disadvantage.

9. Inadequate Airport Security Screenings

Inadequate security screenings are yet another element of social and economic inequality in airport access and usage. These screenings are essential for safety, whether for domestic or international flights. However, the security standards at many domestic airports need to be revised, leading to increased waiting times and exposure to potential risks. This can be especially prominent in rural airports, where security screenings may be nonexistent, leaving travelers in an extremely vulnerable position.

10. Overlooking of Aviation Infrastructure in Rural India

The problem of aviation infrastructure in rural India has yet to be largely overlooked by the government. This has led to significant lags in the development of airports in these regions, preventing the rural communities from expanding their industries, and creating employment opportunities. As such, many individuals, families and communities in these areas remain in a state of social and economic deprivation and inequality, unable to benefit from the vast potential of aviation.


The social and economic inequalities that arise from airport access and usage in India are a major problem for its 1.3 billion people. These inequalities manifest themselves in a variety of ways, from tariff barriers in international airports to the privatization of domestic oceans. The ten examples explored above highlight the challenges faced by travelers from various financial, social, and cultural backgrounds, an overview of the abysmal state of aviation infrastructure in rural India.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below, you will find responses to frequently asked questions concerning the impact of economic and social inequalities on airport access and usage.


What are the top 10 social and economic inequalities in airport access and usage in India?

The top 10 social and economic inequalities in airport access and usage in India are: 1. Insufficient access to domestic airports; 2. Spike in prices for international flights; 3. Tariff barriers in international airports; 4. Poor infrastructure in domestic airports; 5. Limited capacity in domestic airports; 6. Unaffordable charges for airport travel; 7. Poor air quality in domestic airports; 8. Privatization of domestic airports; 9. Inadequate airport security screenings; 10. Overlooking of aviation infrastructure in rural India.

What can be done to reduce social and economic inequalities in airport access and usage in India?

To reduce social and economic inequalities in airport access and usage in India, the government should be encouraged to implement a series of measures. These could include discounts for those in lower-income brackets, improved public transport near airports, and improved airport infrastructure. In addition, more investment in rural airports and improved security screening processes would also help to reduce inequality in airport access and usage in India.


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