The COVID-19 crisis has profoundly impacted the air transport industry and airline passenger experience. Passenger demand is making a gradual return, albeit cautiously amid inflight safety concerns, with a new set of post-COVID-19 measures in tow for airlines.
While containing costs is a key focus for airlines in a sustainable recovery, carriers also face ongoing challenges in reinforcing health, safety and confidence onboard, complying with sanitization rules and ensuring passenger satisfaction.
Demand for onboard high-speed connectivity was accelerating pre-COVID-19, and now, the right inflight connectivity (IFC) solution can bring myriad benefits to airlines in the ‘new normal’. Be that enhancing inflight services, leveraging frequent flyer enrollment, publishing key information and content via passenger Wi-Fi portals, developing additional revenue streams, or offering digital services that help users meet changing safety measures.
We believe easy-access IFC services – expertly and seamlessly delivered no matter the operator’s fleet, aircraft type, avionics and connectivity links – offer key tools for delivering an enhanced, touchless passenger journey. High-performing, integrated IFC can ensure an ongoing return on investment for carriers by readily adapting to airline and industry needs, now and into the future. And, when enriched with targeted and relevant content, these services will be pivotal in giving passengers the best inflight experience.
Supporting passenger needs in a new reality
Throughout the industry's post-COVID-19 recovery and beyond, personal electronic devices (PEDs) will remain central in ensuring a safe, touchless journey for passengers. With PEDs already so embedded in our daily lives, everywhere and at any time on the ground, IFC services give passengers what they crave: the continuity of connectivity inflight.
At the airport, SITA has already introduced numerous solutions that let passengers use their mobile device as a ‘remote control’ for touchpoints, such as self-bag drops and check-in kiosks, without having to touch any equipment.
Once in the air, our SITA FOR AIRCRAFT Internet ONAIR and Mobile ONAIR cellular 4G solutions bring this same remote control capability, enabled via passengers’ PEDs. Passengers can connect their devices in one click to the Wi-Fi or 4G network, avoid any non-personal touchpoints (such as seat-back inflight entertainment screens) and respect social distancing – boosting confidence onboard as a result.
Lately we’ve worked with airlines to give passengers digital access to inflight menus (avoiding paper distribution and touchpoints) and adapted our Internet ONAIR Wi-Fi portal to present specific sanitization information – details which can also be shared with passengers via SMS through the Mobile ONAIR network.
We’ve also enabled airlines to rapidly tailor their onboard internet access fees to encourage greater passenger uptake aboard specific, resumed flight routes.
Even in these early stages of remobilization for the industry, we’re already seeing personal electronic devices become central inflight control centers in the inflight experience. They enable passengers and crews to interact with the onboard environment, and each other, in a safer, contact-free, and more precise, manner.
Personalizing the passenger experience
Similarly, the role of personalization in the passenger experience is now even more important in rebuilding confidence onboard. By integrating IFC services with the passenger manifest and frequent flyer programs, passengers can quickly connect to view personalized information for their aircraft and route – and all through the safety of their own device.
At the same time, with Generation Z and Millennial travelers set to increasingly take to the skies in the years ahead, IFC services will undoubtedly leap into focus as a key draw for passenger satisfaction. These digitally-native fliers will demand access to personalized content via streaming services such as Netflix or Spotify, allowing them to truly govern their inflight entertainment. To ease the entire passenger journey, they will expect IFC services to become as integrated in their inflight environment as they are on the ground.
Personalizing the user experience also presents opportunities for airlines to provide targeted content and generate ancillary revenue opportunities via targeted advertising or offers to passengers.
At SITA FOR AIRCRAFT we are proven at putting IFC personalization into practice, and our years of experience have certainly come into play in recent weeks. We’re working hand-in-glove with customers to continuously optimize their IFC experience, whether that’s based on connectivity type and load factor, departure and destination airports, or via an extensive traffic management capability to adapt inflight broadband capacity. We operate both to enrich the passenger and end-user experience, and to provide the most cost-efficient service, adjusted for the airline customer.
Delivering world-leading IFC over any equipment and network type
Through our 15-year experience, our teams have worked directly and indirectly with 30% of the world’s airlines offering pioneering inflight cabin connectivity. As a service provider, we have designed solutions that deliver a seamless internet service in the skies – whatever the onboard equipment or network technology our airline customers and partners wish to use.
Whether it’s in developing bespoke IFC portals, or providing a complete set of value-added professional services, we tailor our partial or fully managed services to each airline and partner’s needs, adapting to their technology and existing infrastructure. Independent and integrated with several onboard platforms on the market, we deliver truly value-added services, through our strong IT and technical integration knowledge.
We have also developed cross-fleet capabilities and tools, optimizing and harmonizing fleet management. Our all-in-one monitoring and reporting tool helps airlines actively monitor and automatically report on IFC service performance and passenger usage aboard every aircraft or mixed fleet. Our Unified Cabin Solution harmonizes the IFC experience – whatever an airline’s existing onboard avionics, connectivity links or internet service provider (ISP) – enabling us to offer a consistent and harmonized IFC experience across different flights. With this, customers can noticeably reduce their operational costs, while giving passengers a more satisfying IFC user experience with consistent onboard payment methods and reliable performance. Not to mention, an easier training experience for cabin crews.
And with our latest Mobile ONAIR cellular 4G solution, it’s easy for airlines to bring a powerful, ground-style 4G network onboard, as an add-on solution to complement any existing connectivity service or Wi-Fi offering. Our agreements with more than 400 mobile network operators around the world have made Mobile ONAIR a globally-accessible IFC option for all passengers, and a concrete source of ancillary revenue for airlines.
Whatever your existing IFC ecosystem looks like, our Cabin Connectivity Services portfolio provides the tailored solutions and expertise to drive optimization across your fleet and bring the most value to you and your passengers. Our solutions are already addressing post-COVID-19 challenges and can be even further customized to meet every airline and partner’s specific needs.