Rupert Pearce, Inmarsat’s CEO, in an opinion piece in The Daily Telegraph, says that Inmarsat’s plans for In Flight Connectivity (IFC) meant “vast possibilities” for his business, and a “win-win” for airlines and passengers.
Pearce said airlines equipped with in-flight systems would be able to charge, or provide free, broadband services. “Significant additional revenue will come from new streams that are fundamentally about improving the passenger experience – such as allowing passengers to purchase food and drink online with real-time offers, and providing premium, live content including on-demand video.”
Inmarsat has recently updated its own annual survey of the IFC market, which found that 67 per cent of passengers said they would be more likely to rebook with an airline if in-flight broadband were available. This figure rose to 81 per cent of passengers travelling with children, and 83 per cent of business travellers. “These statistics make the business case for IFC even more compelling,” said Pearce.
However, he also stressed that today’s consumer would not accept second-rate services, and that patchy or slow broadband while in flight would not appeal. “Passengers expect more. And rightly so. In fact, I’d go one step further to argue that it’s better to offer no broadband at all than offer average-to-poor connectivity. Passengers need to have a brilliant in-flight experience, not an average one.”
He argues that airlines are now in a better position than ever to invest in IFC. “[It] is a market that is primed for phenomenal growth. The aircraft manufacturers and airlines that stand to gain the most will be those who appreciate that in-flight connectivity is no longer a luxury for passengers, but a necessity.”