Aircraft Interiors – industry development summary: May/Jun-2023


This regular CAPA report provides a summary of major developments in the aircraft interiors sector, supported by data from the CAPA Aircraft Interiors Database and CAPA News.

This edition covers May-2023 and Jun-2023 and features:

  • Evolving Internet Service Provider (ISP) market
  • The rise of lie-flat seats on narrowbodies

  • Korean Air finally launching inflight WiFi

  • + news updates from OEMs and airlines around the world

  • SITA, a major internet service provider (ISP), is exiting the connectivity business by the end of January 2025, leaving little space for independent IFC service providers.
  • The rise of lie-flat seats on narrowbody aircraft is a growing trend, with airlines like Saudia and Flydubai introducing customised lie-flat business class products on their upcoming A321neoXLRs and Boeing 737 MAX deliveries.
  • Korean Air has finally launched inflight WiFi, starting with its 737 MAX 8s and planning to expand the service to its A321neo and 787, and eventually all international aircraft.
  • IFC penetration rate in the Asia Pacific region is lower compared to North America and Europe, primarily due to slow adoption in China and South Korea.
  • Latest global interior updates include new cabin collections, first-class suites, lie-flat business suites, and IFC solutions from various OEMs, as well as cabin upgrades and installations by airlines worldwide.
  • Notable developments include Air New Zealand's installation of Economy Stretch, Japan Airlines' selection of Intelsat's 2Ku IFC solution, and United Airlines' plan to install Panasonic Astrova IFE system on selected aircraft.

Evolving Internet Service Provider (ISP) market

Runway Girl Network broke the news in Mar-2023 that SITA, a major internet service provider (ISP), was going to exit the connectivity business. The exit date is set to be the end of Jan-2025.

According to the CAPA Aircraft Interiors Database, SITA is currently the fifth largest ISP, with a 9% market share. SITA currently offers internet service to around 50 airlines with a fleet in service of more than 800 aircraft. Emirates Airline, Qatar Airways, Saudia, Ethiopian Airlines, and Singapore Airlines are SITA's top five clients by installed fleet.

It is noteworthy that, among the top five ISP providers, SITA is the only vendor that isn't vertically integrated.

In the early days of inflight connectivity (IFC), the business was divided into various sectors: for example, Panasonic Avionics partnered extensively with Telekom Inflight, while Inmarsat partnered with SITA FOR AIRCRAFT.

While Panasonic and Inmarsat focused on integrating satellite signals and solutioning hardware requirements, Telekom and SITA focused on the inflight portal and payment methods.

As the IFC sector grew rapidly over the past decade, the industry started integrating not only horizontally but also vertically, leading to a stagnation in business for dedicated ISPs.

Since 2019 the share of global connected fleet with an independent ISP has stagnated, and is showing signs of decline.

ISP market for connected current fleet: 2013 to 2023

IFC market leaders such as Intelsat and Viasat have been providing the full suite of services - from satellite capacity and connectivity hardware to customer facing portals.

Panasonic's in-house solution has also increasingly gained popularity as new customers opt for Panasonic's portal instead of Telekom's. The IFC heavyweight Inmarsat, soon to be a part of Viasat, has also been aiming to become a full service provider.

Starlink from SpaceX is taking an even more drastic approach, aiming to provide connectivity without any portals. The semi-private jet operator JSX recently completed installing Starlink across its entire active fleet.

Vertical integration in the IFC business has clearly contributed to the exiting of SITA.

"We decided to exit a highly competitive market, ultimately leaving too little space for an independent IFC service provider like SITA", Yann Cabaret, CEO of SITA For Aircraft, stated to Runway Girl Network.

Offering a full solution from satellite capacity and hardware to portals, integrated providers enjoy higher competitiveness.

It is unclear which providers will assume the aircraft currently serviced by SITA. Inmarsat is reportedly aiding airlines to transition away from SITA, with Thales being a possible replacement.

The withdrawal of SITA only marks a new phase in the rapidly evolving IFC space. With Viasat recently completing its acquisition of Inmarsat, it will be interesting to see if Viasat can gain the upper hand in replacing SITA for current Inmarsat customers.

The rise of lie-flat seats on narrowbodies

At the recent Arabian Travel Market two Middle East heavyweights announced their new narrowbody lie-flat business class products.

Saudia unveiled its customised Thompson VantageSOLO for its upcoming long haul Airbus A321neoXLRs. The seats have heavy emphasis on privacy, with sliding doors and shields around the back.

The aircraft also come complete with a full range of inflight entertainment connectivity (IFEC) services, including Panasonic Avionics IFE and Inmarsat's GX Aviation IFC systems.

The first of the 15 A321XLRs on order is expected to be received in 2024, with the full fleet delivered by 2026.

Flydubai also introduced its new "Business Suite", based on Safran's VUE platform.

The UAE airline is the launch customer of the outward facing herringbone model. Similar to Saudia's new lie-flat seats, the product features sliding door and direct aisle access for every passenger.

It will be deployed on flydubai's new Boeing 737 MAX deliveries from Nov-2023.

The history of lie-flat seats on narrowbody aircraft goes back to the 2000s. Back then, lie-flat seats only sporadically appeared on minor narrowbody fleets - such as on the UK airline bmi's A321s. In the early 2010s major US airlines started installing lie-flat seats en masse on 757s and A321s. Most opted for the Diamond platform from B/E Aerospace (now Collins Aerospace); JetBlue's Mint seats used the Vantage product from Thompson Aero Seating.

This trend had stayed mostly within the US - until recent years.

With improved narrowbody capabilities and rise of niche point-to-point routes following the introduction of the 787 Dreamliner, airlines are increasingly interested in long haul narrowbody deployments. New generation narrowbodies (e.g. the 737 MAX, A321LR and A321XLR) have enabled this trend and allowed it to spread worldwide.

Among these aircraft, flydubai's 737-8 became the first to install lie-flats seats outside the US in 2017.

Copa Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, La Compagnie, Aer Lingus, and Air Astana were other notable early adopters.

Narrowbody lie-flat adopters on the 737MAX and A320neo family aircraft: 2014 to 2024, by airline

The entrance of the A321XLR is expected to further accelerate this trend.

As the longest range narrowbody, the A321XLR is expected to enter service in early 2024. Customers such as American Airlines and United Airlines are expected to debut a host of exciting new premium products on their respective A321XLRs.

Korean Air finally launches inflight WiFi

After first announcing its intention to add IFC in 2019, Korean Air has finally rolled out inflight WiFi service.

The Panasonic Avionics-powered IFC would be initially available on 737 MAX 8s; which will be used primarily to serve regional routes, including those to and from Fukuoka and Osaka in Japan.

The airline is planning to expand the service to its A321neo and 787, then eventually all international aircraft.

IFC penetration rate in the Asia Pacific region has long lagged other major aviation markets.

This is primarily driven by the slow adoption of IFC in China and South Korea.

According to the CAPA Aircraft Interiors Database, Asia Pacific IFC penetration rate currently sits at 16% - this is far lower compared to North America and Europe.

IFC models in Asia Pacific: 2014 to 2024

Looking at the current IFC market share in Asia Pacific, Panasonic Avionics has been the market leader since 2015.

The top five Asia Pacific clients for Panasonic includes All Nippon Airways, China Eastern Airlines, Singapore Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Air New Zealand.

Besides Panasonic, the market has seen a rise in adoption of GX Aviation, 2Ku, and Viasat. This rise comes at the cost of SwfitBroadBand from Inmarsat and Ku from Intelsat.

Latest global interior updates


  • ATR reveals new cabin collection for commercial and business operators.
  • Collins Aerospace launches 'Signature Dream' first class suites and 'Aurora' lie-flat business suite for narrowbody aircraft.
  • De Havilland Canada to offer Bluebox Blueview on Dash 8-400s.
  • Deutsche Aircraft selects Acro 'Series 9' economy class seats for its relaunch of the D328.
  • Embraer and Recaro to develop E1 and E2 seat catalogue.
  • Hughes introduces three direct IFC solutions: LEO In-Flight, Hughes Fusion In-Flight and Hughes JUPITER In-Flight.
  • Mirus Aircraft Seating introduces Falcon seat and Kestrel slimline economy seat.
  • Stelia Aerospace's Opera WB seats to debut on upcoming Air France A350s.
  • Unum Aircraft Seating launches 'Unum Two' business class seat for widebody aircraft.


  • Air Malta linefits first A320neo with wireless IFE from Airbus Airspace Link and Bluebox.
  • Austrian Airlines completes expansion of premium economy cabin on all 777s.
  • EasyJet rolls out wireless IFE from AirFi group wide.
  • ITA Airways unveils new A330neo interiors from Thompson and Safran.
  • Norwegian switches IFC provider from GX Aviation to Anuvu for upcoming 737 MAX 8s.
  • Swiss completes A340 premium economy installation.

Asia and South Pacific


Middle East

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