Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha, on Monday claimed the cost of travelling by air is cheaper than taking a ride in auto-rickshaw. Sinha compared the per kilometer cost of air tickets with the average fares of auto-rickshaws in cities.
"Today, airfare is less than that of an auto-rickshaw. You'll ask how is that possible? When two people take an auto-rickshaw they pay fare of Rs 10 which means they're charged Rs 5/km but when you go by air you are charged Rs 4/km."
Speaking at the International Aviation Summit today, Sinha clarified, "So on a per km basis our air fare is among lowest in the world. I am not implying you use planes for short distances, that's not the point of the comparison, it's just to be able to demonstrate how affordable our air fares are."
"We are committed to building the ecosystem for a billion trips a year," Sinha added.
A fact check of flight tickets by Business Today found that remarks by the aviation minister were not out of place.
Take for example, a flight from Delhi to Goa. The average cost of air ticket on this route is Rs 5,000. While the road distance is around 1877 km, the aerial distance comes to around 1515 km. So, the final price comes a little over Rs 3 per kilometer, which is less than Rs 4 mentioned by Sinha.
On routes like Delhi-Ahmedabad and Delhi-Mumbai, the average cost per kilometer is even less than Rs 2 when one books the cheapest ticket available.
However, the air fares are dynamic and one may have to shell out more than Rs 4 per kilometer if you book your ticket the day you are travelling. Air ticket prices also tend to be on the upper side during festive season, especially around Diwali.
Despite facing recent headwinds due to rise in ATF prices, the domestic airline industry has been able to grow at a steady pace. Posting double-digit growth for nearly 50 months, India's domestic aviation market topped the charts again in July with 18.3 per cent growth.
The competitive pricing by airlines has eaten into their profits. According to aviation consulting firm CAPA India, domestic airlines are expected to post combined losses of up to $1.9 billion this financial year led by full-service carriers like Air India and Jet Airways driven by rising costs and low air fares.