Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha today claimed that air travel in the country was now cheaper than travel by auto-rickshaws on per kilometre basis.
"In today's India, the fares of airplanes are lower than that of autorickshaws. Some people will say that I'm talking nonsense, but this is true," Sinha said while speaking at the 27th International Management Conference of the Indore Management Association (IMA).
Explaining the mathematics behind his claim, Sinha said, "These days, passengers spend only Rs five per kilometre on air travel from Indore to Delhi. But if you take an autorickshaw in this city, then you need to spend a relatively higher price of Rs eight to ten per kilometre."
The minister claimed that more people were opting for air travel because the country had the cheapest fares in the world and added that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had remarked that a man wearing slippers is also now flying.
Sinha said that four years ago the number of people travelling by air was 11 crore and was likely to reach 20 crore by the end of the current fiscal.
Sinha said the government wanted to increase the number of people using air travel by five times to 100 crore in the coming years.
He said the country needed to promote innovation in entrepreneurship to provide affordable services to the common man and also to help it overtake large economies such as the United States and China.
He also took a dig at those who criticised the recent statement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who in a television interview claimed that people earning Rs 200 a day selling pakodas can be considered employed.
"Media has been talking about 'pakoda economics' these days. But what's wrong in this if we extend help in the entrepreneurship of some 'pakodawala' at Hazaribagh so that, one day, he could start a fast food chain like McDonald's," he asked.
Calling for the use of electric vehicles in the country, Sinha said if entrepreneurs took the lead, then the country would have passenger drones, helicopter taxis and air-rickshaws powered by electricity, leading to freedom from traffic jams.