Home' Asian Aviation : AAV_Sept 2012 Contents 28 AsianAviation | SEPTEMBER 2012
more efficient maintenance, connectivity and use of
In terms of income, charging for IFE remains
limited to markets outside of the competitive long-
haul international market, says Adepoju.
A number of carriers have implemented the latest
lightweight IFE systems to differentiate their product
from competitors and provide an added source of
revenue. United Arab Emirates-based flydubai, for
example, is equipping its Boeing 737-800 fle et
with Lumexis' Fiber-to-the-Screen (FTTS). Unlike
traditional copper-wired IFE systems, the FTTS
delivers audio and video data to seatback screens via
light pulses in fibre-optic strands, thus shedding 50
per cent of the weight of earlier generation systems.
Following a recent upgrade on what it offers on
the FTTS, flydubai now claims to have more in-
flight movies, TV shows and music than any other
LCC. Passengers can choose from 149 Hollywood,
Bollywood and Arabic films, 154 TV shows and 250
The airline has also revised its pricing, replacing the
former pay-per-show format with packages making
the system better value for money, according to the
airline. Flydubai offers a basic package for AED 10,
providing access to all TV programmes, audio and
games, and a premium package at AED 30, which
includes everything in the basic option plus movies.
"We chose the FTTS IFE system by Lumexis
because it was the only one to meet all our needs -- it
is lightweight, low cost and reliable, while also having
unrivalled quality through being the first system with
HD functionality," explains Ghaith Al Ghaith, chief
executive officer at flydubai.
"So far, we have been pleased with the
performance of our IFE. It is rare for IFE systems
to be profitable but we are happy with the take-up
rate to date. We have also seen excellent passenger
feedback. Our latest passenger surveys, which are
conducted through the IFE system, show that more
than 75% of those who watched a movie thought
the picture and sound quality was good or very
good, which is pleasing to see. This IFE system sets
flydubai apart from many other airlines, both low-cost
and long-haul carriers."
Others, such as LCCs AirBaltic, Jetstar and Scoot
have opted for iPads loaded with entertainment.
AirBaltic was the first carrier in the world to select
iPads for IFE in October 2010. The devices are
loaded with movies, cartoons, music and news,
and are offered free of charge to business class
passengers and rented out at a cost of Euro 9
to economy class passengers. Usage averages
30,000 hours each month and ancillary revenue has
increased by 20 per cent, according to the airline.
Jetstar rents out iPads on its flights for A$10-$15,
depending on flight length.
Connectivity is offering the latest revenue
opportunity for carriers. US carriers in particular have
been keen adopters of wi-fi connectivity, whether it be
in order to meet passenger connectivity expectations,
for ancillary revenue, a traffic driver, because that's
what the competition is doing or all of the above.
More than 1,500 aircraft flying in North America are
outfitted for Gogo connectivity services, which range
in price from US$4.95 to $12.95 depending on flight
length. Gogo customers include AirTran Airways,
Delta Air Lines, Virgin America, Air Canada, Alaska
Airlines, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, United
Airlines and US Airways.
Due to a currently unproven business case most
airlines installing passenger connectivity services are
now doing so to gain advantage over their competitors
and deliver a positive experience, says IMDC.
US Airways, for example, announced earlier this
year that it is expanding its Gogo programme to its
Airbus A320 family and Embraer 190 fleets which
will mean 90 per cent of its mainline domestic
fleet will be wi-fi-equipped by the end of next year.
At the time the airline's president Scott Kirby was
reported as saying that usage rates hadn't reached
a profitable level but the expectation was that they
would at some point. But that's not the airline's main
rationale for equipage, rather the decision to expand
was based on a perceived customer requirement and
expectation of in-flight connectivity and the fact that
its competitors are offering wi-fi.
Other carriers have opted not to charge for
connectivity services. European LCC Norwegian,
for example, has deployed Row 44's broadband
connectivity service on its 737 fleet, offering
passengers wi-fi access, moving map and destination
information all free of charge. "It is free of charge
as we believe it is such a competitive advantage,"
says the airline. "We are extremely happy and our
"The big trend in the last couple of
years is the reduction in cost through
weight savings, cheaper systems, more
efficient maintenance, connectivity
and use of consumer technology" Wale
Adepoju, chief executive, IMDC
Flydubai recently changed the pricing for its FTTS onboard entertainment
system to make it more appealing to passengers.
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