- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2005

ST. PETERSBURG (FLA.) TIMES

The first stages of last week’s US Airways-America West merger are supposed to be mostly invisible to customers, with the carriers operating as separate airlines for about two years.

But there is a change that will catch the eye of veteran US Airways fliers immediately: advertising on the tray tables.

Ads for Verizon Wireless and GM’s Saab division will start showing up on US Airways planes and eventually spread throughout coach cabins of the fleet.

“It’s a unique and unobtrusive way to advertise,” said US Airways spokesman Carlo Bertolini. “It’s not in your face. It’s pretty tactful.”

For nearly two years, America West has contracted with SkyMedia International to put the adhesive vinyl ads on tray tables.

It’s a good deal for airlines. They don’t have to put up any money, and SkyMedia installs the ads and shares revenue.

SkyMedia charges advertisers $19 to $23 per seat each month, the lower rate if more seats are bought, said SkyMedia President Nick Pajic. That comes to 13 cents per passenger, he said.

The airlines are the company’s only customers. But with the industry in the red and fuel prices rising, more airlines are listening to Mr. Pajic’s pitch.

“They’ve already cut [costs] whatever they can,” he said. “It’s free money for the airlines.”

If fliers are offended, they apparently are keeping it to themselves. Mr. Pajic said his company has received only two complaints from America West customers.

“It makes the tray tables more interesting,” he said.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

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