Connected Aviation Prediction: Airlines to Adopt a Retail State of Mind for Digital Inflight Experience

inflight experience

A new year and a new decade are here, and it’s bound to bring with it vast change in the connected aviation ecosystem. As we kick off the new year, the editorial team at Connected Aviation Today is talking with aviation industry executives about their predictions on what will take off and what will stay grounded in 2020.

Recently, Dominic Walters, vice president of marketing communications and strategy for Inmarsat Aviation, shared with our readers his reflections on 2019, from major launches of next generation connectivity solutions, to the rise of inflight experiences demanded by passengers.

Dominic Walters, vice president of marketing communications and strategy for Inmarsat Aviation

In this interview, Walters takes a look at the future of the connected aviation ecosystem and offers his predictions on how the players will adopt new inflight connectivity solutions and change their mind-set over to a retail way of thinking in 2020. Read more here:  

Connected Aviation Today (CAT) Editors: There is a lot of opportunity for the connected ecosystem to grow and expand in 2020. What areas do you believe will see the most growth?

Dominic Walters: As the inflight connectivity market continues to expand, the future looks exciting for the aviation industry. At Inmarsat, we’re looking forward to expanding our inflight Wi-Fi offering, welcoming more market-leading airlines onboard and connecting more and more passengers in the air. Our upcoming satellite launches will deliver on our ambition to make the GX network the most agile and flexible constellation ever conceived, assuring customers that their requirements will continue to be met for decades to come.  

CAT Editors: How will the technology and adoption of technology evolve in 2020 to help spur this growth?

Walters: The need to invest in this developing technology is becoming more and more urgent. We’ve seen that within the next decade airlines will be facing different demands from a new generation of digitally native passengers. This is a demographic shift that will inevitably prompt many to rethink key aspects of their digital inflight experience, allowing passengers to do anything from ordering inflight food online to live streaming their favorite TV shows from the comfort of their seats.  

There is a huge opportunity for airlines incorporating inflight Wi-Fi. Our Sky High Economics series, in partnership with the London School of Economics, revealed that inflight Wi-Fi has the potential to create a $130 billion global market with the next 20 years, resulting in $30 billion of additional revenue for airlines by 2035. At the core of this opportunity is the need for airlines to adopt a retail mindset. This research found that with connectivity, there is a huge scope for airlines to unlock entirely new revenue streams, while also helping to improve the passenger experience.

With the inflight connectivity market continuing to expand, there is a lot of potential on the horizon for Inmarsat to continue to elevate our satellite communications offerings to airline and business aviation and help these players stay ahead of the curve.

CAT Editors: Are there challenges that you see on the horizon that could hinder progress, if not addressed?

Walters: While the industry is responding to this increase in demand for high-speed inflight Wi-Fi, the rate at which airlines are expanding their offering needs to accelerate. The cost of investment continues to be a blocker for many airlines – and it was for this reason that we commissioned the Sky High Economics series with the London School of Economics. We wanted to help airlines to realize the potential of this opportunity. 

That $30b identified in the first chapter shows that although there is a cost implication to invest in inflight connectivity, there is a huge scope for airlines to unlock entirely new revenue streams while improving passenger experience. Airlines can offset the initial cost of investment through ancillary revenues generated through premium content, broadband access fees, e-commerce, advertising and sponsorship. Airlines with a successfully installed connected cabin will be able to reap the rewards of many untapped revenue streams for years to come. 

CAT Editors: How can industry collaborate to ensure success in 2020?

Walters: There is no doubt that connectivity will play a critical role in the future success of the aviation industry, and airlines must act now or risk losing out to competitors. As an industry, we must support airlines in taking that leap to invest and help them reap the rewards of connectivity and meet the ever-changing needs of modern passengers. To deliver a connected aviation ecosystem, partners across the industry must work together by sharing data and information to improve personalized passenger experiences and ultimately reduce flight delays. The question is no longer whether airlines can afford to invest in connectivity, it’s whether they can afford not to.

CAT Editors: We want to hear your prediction!

Walters: 2020 will be the year of airlines beginning to adopt a retail mindset.