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Analyst: IFC to help ViaSat as airlines come out of pandemic

June 16, 2021

By Chris Forrester

Quilty Analytics, in a report that focuses on California-based broadband supplier ViaSat, says that despite the impact of the Covid pandemic ViaSat is going to benefit from a recovery in In Flight Connectivity (IFC) as passengers return to airlines.

For ViaSat in particular, Quilty says that as Covid-19 headwinds continued to ease in its fourth quarter, with the aviation sector continuing its slow recovery and the government sector expected to return to normal “over the next few months.”

ViaSat is busy building three high-end new satellites which will start launching in 2022. The first of these ViaSat-3 craft, covering the Americas, is expected to enter service early in the company’s 2023 financial year. The second craft (serving EMEA) is expected to launch some 6 months after the Americas satellite. The third (covering APAC) is expected to launch 6-9 months after the EMEA craft.

ViaSat also has a robust consumer division and although some 6000 users departed during the year, Quilty estimates that consumer broadband actually grew about 11 per cent during Q4 (and was the tenth straight quarter of double-digit growth).

As to ViaSat’s current IFC status its backlog stands at 1190 aircraft (up from 750 a year previous). By the end of its Q1 it could have expanded to around 1400 aircraft. The past year had seen idle (out of service) aircraft numbered at about 630. Quarter-by-quarter that number has reduced as airlines re-start their services. For Q4 2021 the out-of-service number was about 200.

There’s also been a recovery in the ARPA (Average Revenue per Aircraft). Quilty says that currently ARPA stands at about $7000 per month. This is well down on the pre-Covid position which was above $12,000. Importantly, Quilty suggests that next year will see ARPA of around $10,000 and growing by the end of 2023 to near-$12,000.

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