It is remarkable to see so many travellers regain confidence in taking to the skies again following the pandemic, and it is providing many reasons for the airline industry to get back on track and meet the evolving demand of today’s global travellers.
The two year air travel hiatus brought about by the global pandemic, has resulted in an overwhelming amount of today’s passengers wanting to be connected to the internet when flying, and this is a demand that offers a major opportunity for airlines and private jet charter providers that cannot be ignored.
Inmarsat, is a British satellite telecommunications company that has conducted a very telling study that surveyed 11,00 global air travellers and the results provide air travel providers ample information on what they need to deliver on as soon as possible.
Here are some key highlights from the study:
- 97% of passengers use personal devices for entertainment, social media or work when in the air, and the subsequent desire for in-flight wifi has grown 40% since before the pandemic.
- 77% said that in-flight wifi is important to them when they travel – up from just 55% in 2018’s survey.
- The growth was most prominent in the Middle East as 94% and 92% of passengers from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, respectively, say wifi is important in the air.
- 82% of passengers globally said they would rebook with an airline that offered quality in-flight wifi, with 92% of business travellers and 90% of parents with children under 18 agreeing. (Only 67% agreed before the pandemic, demonstrating clearly how much more important in-flight WiFi has become.)
- When it is available, four in five passengers (79%) are connecting to onboard WiFi, but only 5% say they’re able to make the most of this connectivity.
- Over 38% said they would watch adverts when connected (this is an option that Virgin Atlantic currently gives passengers).
- 51% of passengers said they want more charging ports onboard. (Survey respondents probably mainly travelled in economy because premium seats tend to all have sockets these days.)
The results all point towards the fact that airlines and other air travel providers are going to seize this ripe opportunity to generate revenue while attracting new customers and keep existing ones happy. Companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX have foreseen this demand, and we know that they will be launching Starlink Aviation that will begin delivering terminals in mid-2023 that are capable of providing speeds up to 350 Mbps, fast enough for video calls and online gaming. Companies building low-Earth orbiting satellite networks beaming broadband internet, like SpaceX’s Starlink and Britain-backed satellite operator OneWeb, are racing to court airlines and private jet services in a market dominated by companies such as Inmarsat and its rival ViaSat, which are planning to merge in the near future.
Giving passengers and today’s digital nomads the flying experience they want and focusing on providing quality internet connection for those who want to work or play while onboard, will be the gift that keeps on giving for passengers and for airlines. Cevalon predicts that by 2030, high-speed internet connections will be on every airline, and will likely be free. Travellers will soon expect it as a basic essential.
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