Spring Airlines, the Shanghai-based budget carrier, is poised to include passenger cars in its in-flight shopping catalogue alongside the perfumes and watches, as it cashes in on well-paid frequent travellers.
The budget carrier is becoming well-known for its innovative ideas to sell seats. For example, the airlines added four new mainland destinations to Hong Kong in November after internet ballots.
However, selling cars at 38,000 feet is another thing altogether.
"We have been in talks with a wide range of mainland car makers for a long period of time," said Spring Air spokesman Zhang Wuan. "Many technical issues needed to be implemented before we roll out car sales on board."
In April, Spring Air will be able to offer credit card payments on flights through point-of-sale (POS) technology. Passengers could then make the payments for the selected car on credit.
The toughest problem being encountered by Spring is how to train its 500-plus cabin crew to become familiar with the different models so that they can promote and sell the cars in a professional manner.
The first batch of car models would be priced at 100,000 yuan (HK$123,000), which is considered to match the level Spring's passengers could afford, Zhang said.
"More than 90 per cent of our passengers are white-collar workers aged 45 or below," he said.
Wang Zheng-hua, chairman of Spring Air, has long been contemplating selling cars, or even houses, on board his fleet.
He has said he believes that frequent travellers, who may not be able to visit showrooms on the ground, would be interested in glancing through the car catalogue and even buying a vehicle during a one-to-two hour flight.
Zhang did not disclose the brands of cars that may offer in-flight sales of their cars next month.
Some special discounts will be offered to car buyers on board, he said. The airline was also looking at offering buyers a grace period for withdrawing their order if they had second thoughts when they landed.