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A Detailed Case Study on the Marketing Strategy of Air India

Updated on: May 24, 2021
Air India Case Study and Marketing Strategy | IIDE

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My name is Aditya Shastri and I have written this case study with the help of my students from the online digital marketing course at IIDE - India's #1 digital marketing institute.

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Air India is an airline service provider in India. It is owned by the Government of India. It is a member of Star Alliance, which is one of the largest airline alliances in the world. When it was founded in 1932, it was originally owned by TATA sons. It became a public limited company in 1946. Air India since then has strived to be the best in the airline industry in India.

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Knowing how to effectively use digital space to advertise and showcase your brand to a tremendous number of consumers is one of the most sought-after skill sets. We provide different types of digital marketing courses for all kinds of learners- students, graduates, and professionals.

In the Air India case study, we discuss the competitive analysis, digital presence, SWOT analysis, and also some marketing campaigns. In its marketing mix, advancements in all the sectors like the Product, price, place, promotions, etc have been carried out.

So let us begin with learning more about Air India.


About Air India

Air India is the flag carrier airline of India, headquartered in New Delhi. It is a government-owned enterprise. It operates a fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft serving domestic and international destinations. The airline has its hub at Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, and several focus cities across India. Air India is the largest international carrier out of India with an adequate chunk of market share. 

The old logo of the airline is a red colored flying swan with the ‘Konark Chakra’ in orange, placed inside it. The flying swan has been altered from Air India’s characteristic logo, ‘The Centaur’, whereas the ‘Konark Chakra’ is reminiscent of Indian’s logo.

Maharaja is the most lovable and recognizable figure. He may look like royalty, but he isn’t royal. He’s almost like a friend to every Air India traveler. A friend who reaches out with warmth and hospitality, even to the farthest corners of the world. 

Now that we have a brief knowledge about the company, let’s look at Air India’s marketing mix.


Air India Marketing Mix


Marketing strategy helps companies achieve business goals & objectives. For a better understanding of strategies used by Air India we will now look at their 7P model of Marketing Mix:



Air India is one of the leading airlines in India providing international and domestic travel services. Air India once had 2 products; passenger and cargo transport. However, the cargo transport was decommissioned in 2012. It only operates through passenger transport. It uses Boeing and Airbus planes for the same.

Premium lounges and flight entertainment are some of its main products. To reduce cost and maintain the quality level, it even leases a few of its fleets. The vast network of routes possessed by Air India enables it to cater services across the most important cities and business centers globally. It provides a high level of safety to ensure repeat service purchase of its passengers.



The route of air traffic, the distance, and the number of halts on the way are some of the factors that affect the prices. It follows competitive pricing as airlines are a highly competitive space. At the same time, there are two types of price, within a flight :

  • Economy class and 
  • Business-class

Air India prices airline tickets are easily accessible to middle-class families. Premium pricing is primarily done to target Business class passengers as they have a high tendency to pay and avail themselves of premium services.



Being the primary choice of airline travel, Air India’s service base has been increasing year on year. Place in Air India doesn’t matter much as nowadays everything is online. Online retail sites like, make my trip, Expedia has Air India airlines listed on their portal, and this is where people can buy Air India tickets. They have also tied up with various agencies to sell their tickets, thus increasing their service base and capabilities.



By promoting their tagline, “Air India.. Truly Indian”, it sets up a standard as it is fully controlled by the government. It offers trade discounts and trade tie-ups to promote its business. Their point of purchase is ticketing counters at traveling agencies, online options, tourist packages, etc. 

Besides this, regular banners and promotional activities are done by Air India. Its promotion activities continue via the IRCTC portal, thus it makes it easy for the consumers to plan their journey accordingly. Air India implemented a short-term promotional strategy with Amadeus. 



Air India’s expert and professional work base have helped him to achieve the top position in the industry. From pilots to security personnel everyone believes in the best service quality to the customers to give them the best flight experience. This has been possible only because of the highly professional working base of Air India. 


Physical Evidence

Air India has its physical evidence through very spacious airplanes, accessible airport kiosks, easy-to-use websites, etc. their premium lounges are very comfortable to be in. With a fleet of excellent airplanes and a high level of amenities, it provides consumers the best travel experience and so they make multiple purchases.



Air India has numerous processes to ease the business. From the purchase of tickets to delivery of luggage, Air India has it all step by step so that customers can have a smooth transition. Premium lounges make waiting for aircraft easy. Online portals of booking tickets make these processes easy for both passengers and Air India. In case of any unfortunate incident such as flight reschedule, delay or cancellation, Air India makes sure that the passengers don’t face any kind of inconvenience.

The aviation industry has very tough competition. A company should be well aware of its strengths and weaknesses to remain on top of the leaderboard. For the same, let’s check out the SWOT analysis of Air India.


SWOT Analysis of Air India


The purpose of this comprehensive SWOT analysis of Air India is to analyze Air India’s internal and external environments. It looks at the airline’s strengths and weaknesses. This also seeks to discuss the possibilities that Air India could pursue and the threats that it should keep an eye on.


Air India Strengths

  • Strong backing by the government
  • Updated fleet, competent repairs, and maintenance expertise
  • Presence in 20+ countries
  • Covers approximately 50 destinations
  • Unique image of ‘Maharaja’
  • Largest Air carrier in traffic volume and company assets
  •  In-flight entertainment and Lounge services
  • Online ticketing and low prices


Air India Weaknesses

  • Political intervention
  • Low profitability
  • Growing competitor base
  • Lack of clarification about the strategic path 
  • Low productivity, low power usage


Air India Opportunities 

  • Expansion of routes and international destinations
  • Solve internal issues
  • Tourism would raise demand
  • Increase in India’s GDP
  • Opportunity to launch Low-Cost Carrier


Air India Threats

  • Stiff competition on its foreign routes
  • Small local airlines and their prices
  • Rising fuel costs
  • Losing market share
  • Rising labor costs

A company needs to analyze its internal factors to turn its weakness into strengths. Also, opportunities to plan. Let’s take a look at its marketing strategy. 


Marketing Strategy of Air India


A marketing strategy helps a company to achieve business goals and objectives. the company has proven to be a major contender amongst most of the other airlines of India. However, even though the company seeks to be India’s major ambassador to the rest of the world, it is bound to face a lot of competition, considering the vast amount of competition in a country as big as India itself. Let’s check out how Air India markets itself. 

The brand utilizes undifferentiated techniques because of which it is missing out on business sectors share in a business of this sort.  To make an unmistakable picture in the brain of clients, it utilizes a mascot for making a brand picture of neighborliness and rich legacy, along these lines it utilizes. Value-based situating strategies are also heavily implemented by Air India. Several factors, along with governmental aid have also assisted Air India with arising as the biggest worldwide Carrier out of India. 


Segmentation Strategy

Elements like age, sex, and psychographics/distinctive demographics assume a significant part in gathering the populace based on comparable qualities in the business of this company, in particular. Air India utilizes a blend of socioeconomics, psychographics, and geographic division systems.

The brand uses an undifferentiated target strategy due to which it is losing out market share in the competitive market. It uses a mascot to create a distinctive image in the mind of the consumers. The positioning strategy designs the company’s image and product to occupy a significant place in the consumer’s mind. It uses a Value-based positioning strategy for creating a brand image of hospitality and a rich strategy.


Brand Equity

Brand equity is the value premium generated from a product when compared to the generic equivalent.  It operates one of the youngest fleets in the world and regular upgrades ensure that they provide a superior flight experience to its customers. 

  1. It is a full member of the Star Alliance Network
  2. Won Reader’s Digest Trusted Brand Gold Award
  3. Received IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) recognition for ground services
  4. Won Emerging Freighter Services of the Year Award at Air Cargo India Exhibition and Conference
  5. Won PATWA International award at ITB, Berlin, as Best Asian Airline from Europe to India
  6. Won Galileo Express TravelWorld Award, for Best Short-haul International Airline from India

The marketing strategy of Air India is quite adequate, but the panorama of the market is gigantic. Many competitors have arisen since the launch of the company. Let’s dig deeper into it.  


Competitive Analysis

Whether the famous Maharaja mascot or the fact that the public sector undertaking is backed by the government and many others have collectively helped Air India to emerge as the largest international Carrier out of India. With more than 1400 pilots and 2100+ cabin crews, Air India is reaching out to more than 30 countries globally in addition to domestic locations.

Air India commands more than 16% market share through its international operations.

Cost structure plays a pivotal role in the operations and competitive landscape of the companies operating in the industry which consists of fuel, administrative cost, rental of flight equipment, ticketing sales & promotions, user charges, Pax services, flight crew Salary & expenses.

Air India along with its wholly-owned Kochi based subsidiary Air India Express Limited (AIEL) compete with companies like 

  • Indigo
  • Jet Airways
  • Go Air
  • Air Asia
  • Jet Airways
  • Spicejet 

And more in the national & regional market. While companies like 

  • Etihad
  • Oman Air
  • Thai Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Emirates 

 Are some rival airlines in the international space. 

This graph depicts the market share of major airlines, based on international traffic in 2019.

Jet airways with 12.1% top the list. Air India ranks second in the list with a 10.5% market share for international traffic.

This graph depicts the market share of major airlines, based on passengers carried in 2019.

IndiGo leads the market by conquering 43% of the market share. Following IndiGo, Jet Airways is second (12%) and SpiceJet, third with 13% of the market share. Here, Air India ranks fourth and captures only 11% of the market share. 

A company’s connection with its consumers is crucial. They should market themselves such that they relate to the audience and thereby, build trust. Let’s look at some of its marketing campaigns.


Air India Marketing Campaigns


Marketing campaigns promote products through different types of media, such as television, radio, print, and online platforms. It not only promotes the product but also sends a meaningful message to connect with the customer. Campaigns carried out by Air India guarantees the best and the safest travel experience. 



Probably India’s most recognizable mascot, the Air India Maharaja is usually depicted standing with his hands folded graciously in a namaste or bowed with his hand over his heart to welcome his guests. But now, the mascot has various other transformations. Let’s look at some of them. 


A dig at Indigo

Air India released two advertisements on Twitter in a veiled thread at IndiGo after a video showed one of its employees entering into a scuffle with a passenger. After the assault incident of IndiGo, Air India took a dig at IndiGo and promised “unbeatable service” with the letter ‘beat’ in blue- the theme color of IndiGO. The second one depicts Air India’s mascot ‘Maharaja’ in his trademark style with the tagline, “We raise our hands ONLY to say namaste”

IndiGo came in for criticism on Twitter for the incident with some calling for its boycott. 


War Ads

Air India and IndiGo are in war ads. Air India is stepping up its advertising campaign to lure consumers. Air India put up an advertisement on a wall panel right behind IndiGo’s check-in counters with a message- “Next time fly with Air India and feel the difference.”. It doesn’t mention any rival but the strategic placement says it all. Even IndiGo didn’t back off. It replied Air India with an advertisement.

However, such aggressive marketing is a first for the national carrier. Air India is trying to muscle its way into the consumer’s mind with high pitch advertising and discount offers.

Digital is the new name. You need to be alert, adaptable, and executive on the trends. Having a digital presence makes it easy for consumers to browse through your portfolio even when you are sleeping. It facilitates easy access without labor and rent. Let’s see how JSW Steel cracked this. 


Air India’s Digital Presence


Digital presence is as important as a marketing strategy. In today’s time, each one of us is hooked up with different social media and to be active on each platform is a  must.





ID: @officialairindiaexpress

No. of followers: 52.4k

No. of posts: 429





ID: @airindia

No. of followers: 563,283

No. of posts: 2.7k





ID: @airindiain

No. of followers: 439k

No. of tweets: approx 5649 photos and videos




ID: Air India Limited

No. of followers: 76,621



On Instagram, Facebook and Twitter,

  • Promotes new operations and routes
  • Contest results 
  • Pictures of their meals provided by them
  • Pictures of their fleets
  • Pun intended captions
  • New features like “web check-in”
  • Their pilots in their workplace
  • Interaction through festive posts
  • Engagement with their followers is nearly equal to zero as there are no such activities or campaigns carried out on either of their social media platforms.
  • Covid protocols
  • Some undeniable procedure before boarding the flight
  • They retweet the news articles which are about them


On Linkedin, the posts are the same as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Insights and job vacancies are updated by the company. 

The impact of social media on business is no doubt huge. Organizations understand the essence of social media in building the brand and increasing the overall revenue. 

Air India should boost their social media game real quick because it is what can result in a big impact on its marketing.





Air India has established its position as India’s largest and most effective air carrier on all fronts, according to the extensive studies done and information gathered. Their service is up to date and relevant, serving millions of passengers on a regular basis.

They aggressively position themselves in the market using a variety of promotional tactics, including campaigns and social media, to keep consumers informed about future packages and more. Consumers see their low prices as a competitive advantage and selling feature. Overall, their marketing and commercial tactics have been effective in propelling them to new heights while remaining innovative.

Thank you for reading! We hope you found this case study useful and learnt about Air India’s Marketing Strategies and Presence. If you did, be sure to share, comment and check out more of our blogs! To get started in this field, have a look at IIDE’s Free Masterclass on Digital Marketing. 



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Aditya Shastri

Lead Trainer & Head of Learning & Development at IIDE

Leads the Learning & Development segment at IIDE. He is a Content Marketing Expert and has trained 6000+ students and working professionals on various topics of Digital Marketing. He has been a guest speaker at prominent colleges in India including IIMs......[Read full bio]


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