New Delhi: Flag carrier Air India, reeling under accumulated losses and loans of around Rs 67,520 crore ($12 billion), is planning to carry advertisements on its aircraft to mobilise additional revenue.
"We have plans to allow advertisers to put up ads on the aircraft. Ads can be placed on the tail or the hull of the aircraft," a highly placed source in the national airline told IANS.
The airline is looking to earn around Rs 500,000 to Rs 2 million per aircraft per month for an advertisement. More than one advertisement it hopes would raise the monthly earnings to Rs 4 million per aircraft.
Air India currently has 111 aircraft in its fleet and this revenue is expected to ease the carrier's financial stress.
"The revenue from this segment depends on the kind of advertisement customers want to place on the aircraft. Most ads in the industry come for aircraft operating on the domestic sector as there are more stopovers, which increases visibility," said the source.
The airline is, however, more bullish on the in-flight advertisements and claims that it has received many queries for the same as this kind of advertisement has an assured visibility.
"The passenger may or may not see the advertisement on the aircraft body. But the passenger will definitely see it (advertisements) on the panels, bins, screens, pillows and seat covers."
The airline is also mulling creating advertisement space on its boarding passes and bag tags. This form of advertising has been around for some time and is gaining popularity.
"We have lost out on this opportunity but we have business proposals for the same that can be implemented soon," said the source.
Air India expects substantial revenue addition from the advertisement space on some 22 million per annum boarding passes.
A third way to generate revenue is allowing in-flight sampling of products by consumer durables companies.
"The concept is quite old and we were pioneers in it, but it was discontinued for some reasons. Now we are planning the restart of this practice sans passenger inconvenience," said the source.
In the early 2000s, the airline used to provide free VSNL prepaid international sim cards to its business class and frequent flier category passengers.
The civil aviation ministry has meanwhile asked the airline not to provide any free ride to any government-run promotion schemes and said the state-owned units have to go through a competitive bidding process for their advertisement campaigns.