Wider adoption of inflight connectivity (IFC) in the Asia-Pacific region would reap financial and operational rewards for airlines, satellite communications specialist Inmarsat said.
IFC penetration is only about 20% in the region, Inmarsat APAC regional director-aviation Chris Rogerson told ATW at the MRO Asia Inflight Asia-Pacific Workshop.
A study by the company and the London School of Economics estimates that global ancillary revenue from IFC will reach $30 billion by 2035, with the greatest potential in the Asia-Pacific region.
“To put into context, the global airline profitability in 2017 is less than $30 billion,” Rogerson said. “Where profit margins are low, airlines can consider IFC ancillaries to replace lower yields.”
Beyond generating revenue, connectivity can also improve efficiency, Rogerson said. Electronic flight bags with real-time updates, for example, would enable aircraft to avoid bad weather, resulting in an estimated 1% fuel savings, he said.
In addition, innovations such as connected sensors in overhead compartments and seats could reduce cabin crew workloads and allow airlines to monitor passenger behavior patterns to determine how to alter services.
A 2016 survey by Inmarsat found that 86% of Asia-Pacific passengers would choose an airline that offers inflight Wi-Fi.
The company plans to launch the first Inmarsat-6 satellite in 2020, with L- and Ka-band payloads to augment the Global Xpress service.