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Advertising boost drops airfare at budget carrier

AirAsia fills plane compartment with ads to offset prices

Cosmetics ads cover the overhead storage bin doors inside an AirAsia plane.

BANGKOK -- On a recent flight aboard AirAsia from the Thai capital to Singapore, I unexpectedly saw a dazzling array of colorful cosmetics ads adorning the overhead storage bin doors.

All of the ads are written in Chinese. They promote face masks, foundations and face cream made from snails. The ads apparently come from Thailand and are designed to appeal to the many Chinese tourists. 

When I took my seat, I spotted another cosmetics ad on the backside of the tray table in its stowed position. 

The Malaysian budget carrier gives consumers the opportunity to travel cheaply between the countries in the region. 

I am accustomed to simple and stark aircraft interiors, but I became convinced that these ads help AirAsia generate profit by taking advantage of as much space on its airplanes as possible. 

The main attraction of budget carriers is cheap airfare, which is possible because of thoroughly streamlined services. The carriers charge for meals and beverages as well as seat selection and also impose strict weight limits for checked baggage. 

With AirAsia's cheapest ticket, the departure dates can be changed, but a fee will be applied, and cancellations are not eligible for a refund. Pillows and blankets are provided at an extra charge. 

In 2005, AirAsia started to sell ad space on aircraft fuselages and inside planes. Since then, ads from a wide variety of industries, such as banks, theme parks and auto, insurance and fashion companies, have been featured on the baggage storage doors and tray tables. 

Once empty spaces are now contributing to cheaper fares. 

An AirAsia official said aircraft interiors covered with ads go down well among clients. However, the official noted that the airline does not know whether passengers enjoy flying on such planes. 

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