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Airlines find another revenue stream: tray table ads

As soon as today, ads for GM Saab and Verizon Wireless and will start showing up on US Airways planes.

Published October 3, 2005

The first stages of the 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 here's a change that will catch the eye of old US Airways fliers right away: advertising on the tray tables.

As soon as today, ads for Verizon Wireless and GM Saab 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," says US Airways spokesman Carlo Bertolini. "It's not in your face. It's pretty tactful."

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

It's a sweet deal for airlines. They don't need to put up any money, and Sky Media installs the ads and shares revenues.

Sky Media charges advertisers $19 to $23 per seat each month, the lower rate if more seats are bought, says Sky Media 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 Pajic's pitch. "They've already cut (costs) whatever they can," he says. "It's free money for the airlines."

If fliers are offended, they're apparently keeping it to themselves. Pajic says his company has received only two complaints from America West customers. "It makes the tray tables more interesting," he says.

[Last modified October 3, 2005, 05:53:17]

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