Airlines poised to invest in Internet in the sky

INTERNATIONAL. Airlines worldwide are poised to invest in onboard short messaging service (SMS), Internet and email services according to the results of the latest annual Airline IT Trends Survey – conducted by SITA and Airline Business magazine.

The survey shows that by the end of this year 25% of airlines will offer email and 22% SMS services to passengers onboard their aircraft. By 2006 these figures rise to 46% offering email and 45% offering SMS services. This is expected to open new Internet services and new revenue streams for airlines in the long term.

The World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) recently issued a report that more than 4,980 aircraft, about 43% of the world’s commercial fleet, are flying with some form of Inflight Entertainment (IFE), and approximately 3,300 aircraft have satellite communications ability – necessary for air-to-ground Internet connections.

SITA president Peter Buecking commented: “These technologies offer opportunities to further differentiate cabin services and we expect to see a dramatic uptake in the next few years as airlines upgrade their IFE systems.

“The traditional leadership of Asia Pacific carriers with IFE technologies is continuing in these new areas of cabin service. The survey shows that over a quarter of the Asia Pacific carriers are already operating trials with SMS and email and this rises to over half in the next two years.”

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