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Air India bets on cheeky ads amid stiff competition

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Showcasing better seat space and extra baggage allowance, is taking on rival airlines with cheeky advertisements dotted with smiling and sad emojis.

The national carrier, which has turned operationally profitable after a decade, is working on ways to attract more fliers as well as push brand 'Air India' against the backdrop of intense competition and aggressive ticket pricing ways.

Close on the heels of indulging in a bitter war of words with IndiGo over placing of hoardings at the airport, today came out with cheeky advertisements that indirectly takes a dig at rivals.

Without naming rivals, the state-owned carrier has made use of happy and sad emojis to convey that its flights provide more seat pitch, complimentary food as well as allow carrying extra baggage.

Generally, an emoji refers to a digital image used to express emotions.

"Today when airfares are almost on par, here's what makes the big difference... Choice is yours," Air India's latest advertisement said along with a tabular presentation of the three aspects spread across three categories.

When contacted, an spokesperson said the national carrier was only "presenting" facts through such advertisements.

"We are only presenting facts and the good side of the airline to the customers," the spokesperson said.

However, an Air India official said that getting aggressive is the demand of time amid cut-throat competition in the domestic airline space.

"The profits and margins are so squeezed in the airline industry that you have to take competition head-on and go for aggressive advertisement and marketing pitch," the official noted.

Against the attributes of 'best seat pitch, 'hot and delicious complimentary food' and 'free baggage allowance' in three separate rows, there is a smiling emoji for Air India while it is a sad emoji under the heading 'other rivals'.

Air India allows up to 35 kilogram baggage for business class travellers and the same is up to 25 kilogram in the case of economy class fliers, as per the advertisement.

Last month, there was a controversy over advertisement involving Air India and IndiGo and the matter was sorted out later.

The controversy started when the Air India advertisement

placed next to the check-in areas of IndiGo said: 'Wish you a comfortable flight. Next time fly with Air India and feel the difference.'

IndiGo responded with a counter advertisement that named Air India directly. At the check-in bay of the national carrier, IndiGo had put up a small standee that read: 'Yes, Air India, there is a difference. Says the government.'

The matter, however, was later resolved after the issue reached the Civil Aviation Ministry.

For the first time in a decade, Air India has reported an operating profit of Rs 105 crore in 2015-16, aided by lower fuel costs and higher passenger numbers, even as the national carrier incurred a net loss after interest of Rs 3,837 crore in the same period.

First Published: Wed, October 19 2016. 20:07 IST