New Delhi: India's domestic air fares per km basis are cheaper than even an auto-rickshaw ride, Union Minister Jayant Sinha said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the International Aviation Summit being held here, Sinha said: "If you look at the typical cost of an auto-rickshaw, in any of our large cities, it is around Rs 8 to Rs 10 per km... say if two people are travelling on an auto-rickshaw, then on a per person basis it is around say Rs 4 to Rs 5 per km."
"Air fares, if you book ahead of time, typically it is Rs 4 a km or sometimes even less, on a per km basis it is among the lowest in the world."
In addition, the minister said: "Obviously, I am not implying therefore use planes for short distance, that's not the point of the comparison, just to demonstrate how affordable air fares are."
Accordingly, low air fares have been a major driver for passenger traffic in India.
When asked about the sustainability of the airline sector due to the high fuel cost and low passenger air fares, the minister said the sector's growth is "not a bubble" as air fares in India are low but not the lowest in the world and that the ticket prices are driven by a number of inputs especially the fuel cost.
He added that if fuel prices go up then fares will also increase.
On the infrastructure requirement for the sector's growth, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said: "We have planned 100 new airports in India in the next 15 years, with an investment of $60 billion."
"The vision 2035 for airport development will take an integrated approach towards this direction, and we welcome everyone across the industry to give their suggestions."
The summit was held to commemorate the approaching milestone of 50-straight months of double digit domestic growth for Indian aviation.
The event was organised by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).