Peter Hill, the Chief Executive Officer of Oman Air, has spoken of the wealth of opportunities offered to both airlines and their customers by the integration of in-flight entertainment (IFE) and in-flight connectivity systems.
Speaking at Marketforce and the IEA’s The Future of Air Transport 2010 conference, held in London recently, Mr Hill said:
“Having been the first airline to introduce in-flight mobile phone and Wi-Fi connectivity, Oman Air has proved that the technology works. Over the next year or two, many other carriers will offer connectivity to their customers and the speed of technological development will see enormous possibilities open up.
“The convenience of staying connected in-flight is clear. Making mobile phone calls, sending text messages, checking email and surfing the internet are all taken for granted on the ground and now they are available in the air, the next step will be for airlines to make the most of the technology. In-flight broadband already gives us the opportunity to shop whilst we fly, but carriers and their technology partners will be working together to develop a greater range of options, tailored to the needs of customers and offering opportunities to deliver new revenue streams.
“Those new income streams will be complemented by savings, as we see more airlines provide in-flight magazines, menus and other publications via seatback IFE monitors, thereby cutting down on the costs of production and making weight savings.”
Mr Hill’s comments followed his presentation, titled “In-flight entertainment: Fees or free”, during which he said that in-flight entertainment should be referred to as in-flight entertainment and connectivity, as the technologies become increasingly integrated. He added that there was no such thing as ‘free’ connectivity, as the technology has to be paid for at some point.
“Those who say that airlines should offer ‘free’ connectivity and point to the Wi-Fi hotspots provided by coffee shops as a precedent, miss the point that the cost of that service is included in the price of the coffee – it is not, in fact, provided free. With the advent of in-flight connectivity, airlines are now engaged with the issue of how best to charge, and at what levels, and a range of pricing models will emerge.”
Mr Hill was invited to speak at The Future of Air Transport 2010 following Oman Air’s recent introduction of a new fleet of Airbus A330 aircraft which features the world’s first combined mobile phone and Wi-Fi connectivity package, as well as audio and video on demand and live satellite TV.
Peter Hill, who was appointed as Oman Air’s CEO in 2008 and has since led the transformation of the airline, successfully positioning it as a widely-acclaimed luxury international carrier.
Now in its 18th year, Marketforce and the IEA’s The Future of Air Transport has grown in size and reputation, attracting many senior-level delegates to discuss key industry issues and the future direction of the sector.