The financial impact of COVID on the aviation industry has made doing more with less non-negotiable for now. So, what does this mean for other seemingly non-health-related technology initiatives that have been in play for a while across the aviation industry – initiatives like in-flight connectivity (IFC)? With more efforts (and more conservative budgets) focused on passenger health and safety, how are technology providers that offer services like IFC evolving to contribute to the goal of boosting passenger confidence?
A new report from Valour Consultancy, “The Future of In-Flight Connectivity – 2020 Edition,” details market predictions around IFC and what its role is in the aviation industry’s recovery process. Despite challenges, both financial and resource-based, brought on by the pandemic, Valour Consultancy foresees the number of aircraft installed with IFC doubling. At the end of 2020, 9,026 aircraft offered this capability; Valour Consultancy expects that number to rise to approximately 18,500 in 2029.
“The pandemic is driving change in the passenger experience and many airlines are using this period to revisit their digital strategies,” said Daniel Welch, report author and Senior Consultant at Valour Consultancy. “It’s clear we’re going to see a greater emphasis placed on contactless interactions, customer reassurance, and the seamlessly digital journey. IFC can, at the very least, enhance many applications linked to these areas and, as a result, will become more integral to airlines than before the pandemic hit.”
Dovetailing with more seamless technological interfaces in the cabin, Welch also outlined the topic of the “captive portal” in the report. This concept illustrates how airlines like American Airlines and Cathay Pacific are employing a comprehensive and compelling portal for passengers by creating a more “harmonious” approach to loyalty and onboard retail services.
“In the past, passengers flying with an airline that has multiple IFC services in use across its fleet have typically been exposed to the nuances of these deals, paying different rates based on the hardware/service onboard.” explained Welch. “Having a harmonized experience reduces friction during the login process, but also drives ancillary opportunities. Deploying an engaging portal is an achievable short-term win for carriers that already have IFC or wireless IFE that will continue to drive long-term growth.”
In-flight connectivity will play an important part in rebuilding passenger confidence and maintaining new levels of passenger expectations in a more technologically savvy travel experience. Nicole Grainger, Strategic Marketing for Collins Aerospace, noted in a recent Q&A on APEX. “Over and above the enhanced in-cabin services made possible by connecting the cabin, there’s value in passengers having an intrinsically digital journey too. It allows omni-channel experiences to continue in-flight, adding both tangible and intangible values.” The growing role of IFC in the passenger journey is undeniable and its value is seen in several different formats as the industry moves to rebuild passenger confidence.