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In-flight wifi ‘important’ for Mideast travellers

Dubai, November 21, 2013

Middle East travellers expect to stay connected at 30,000 ft with fast and consistent in-flight wireless connectivity to stay productive and connected to the ground below, revealed a new survey.

Checking email, accessing social media sites and reading news are among the predominant needs of the passengers on long-haul flights, said the Honeywell Aerospace research, which surveyed more than 1,300 adults across the Middle East.

The Middle East, especially those countries with hub international airports such as United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is quickly becoming a growing centre for regional and international travel and has led the way in the early adoption of existing technologies for connectivity.

About 76 per cent of the respondents viewed access to in-flight connectivity as vital or important service for business or leisure use, even as wifi is still a flourishing amenity on many flights.

More than half of respondents wanted access to wifi for business reasons and the high number of overall respondents rating it as important or vital indicates that passengers may select an airline based on the availability of in-flight connectivity.

“The Middle East aerospace industry is experiencing rapid expansion and technology and innovation is vital for meeting passenger demand. With people wanting to stay online when flying and with faster connectivity on personal devices, we are seeing a growing trend toward the cabin always being connected,” said Aileen McDowall, vice president, Air Transport and Regional, EMEAI, Honeywell Aerospace.

“Our survey results show that passengers may take the availability of in-flight broadband into account when selecting an airline, and indicate that cabin connectivity could be a major service differentiator and value-added revenue stream for the region’s airlines in the coming years.”

The survey results showed that only about 27 per cent passengers in the UAE accessed wifi in-flight for both business and pleasure compared with 53 per cent in Saudi Arabia. About 44 per cent among UAE reposdents used the internet for leisure only.

For respondents that indicated in-flight connectivity was vital or important, approximately two in three use Wi-Fi to communicate with family and friends or to work, and one in four access entertainment online.

More than a third of respondents would consider giving up a preferred window or aisle seat, and nearly a quarter said they would forfeit an in-flight beverage service, said the survey.

About 45 percent of the respondents are likely to pay for wifi to take care of business tasks while in-flight; however, there is a resistance to paying for the service to handle personal tasks, it said.

Only 47 per cent reposdents would consider purchasing wifi for short-haul flights within the Middle East, as compared with about 70 per cent who would purchase such service for long-haul flights outside the Middle East.

Honeywell’s line of satellite and connectivity products ranges from basic voice over data communications in the cockpit to high-speed connectivity with unlimited potential applications in the cockpit and cabin.

Through product development and recent acquisition and partnerships, Honeywell plans to deliver global high-speed in-flight connectivity to passengers by enabling airlines and airplane manufacturers to access Inmarsat’s Global XpressKa-band satellite constellation.

Passengers can expect to shop, access email, connect with friends on social networking sites, and enjoy live streaming for entertainment as early as 2015.

Honeywell showcased its connectivity solutions at the Dubai Airshow that concluded today (November 21). - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Survey | WiFi | Honeywell | In-flight | important |

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