As the global aviation industry reawakens from the lows experienced in 2020 due to the pandemic, eyes are turning back to how the industry evolves in the coming years.
Inflight connectivity (IFC) has become so common in some regions of the world that it is no longer seen as a luxury, but instead an expected service that is noticed when absent.
North America has paved the way, with many years of development and IFC infrastructure upgrades to its fleets.
Onboard connectivity caters to the millions of millennial leisure travellers and savvy business passengers in the
region. In fact, for some legacy US airlines, IFC has become the ‘talking point’ of onboard service development,where other hard products lag the global competition.
In the Middle East, with some of the world’s leading airlines in onboard service, connectivity is again becoming expected. Adding to the portfolio of services that some of the Gulf airlines already have onboard.
One region that is surprising, however, is the Asia Pacific; the global leader in aviation growth, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. What is surprising is the small number of aircraft within the region that have some form of IFC onboard.
Some airlines in the region are leading the way, with airlines in Japan and Australia having extensive coverage.
However, airlines in China and India, among other large markets in the region, lack the momentum of IFC installation or were limited by regulations.
In fact, as a percentage of total fleet within the region that has IFC onboard, the Asia Pacific is only slightly ahead of Latin America, a region that notoriously has low IFC coverage.
The tide is changing, however. Some green shoots of IFC are already showing. LCCs in the Asia Pacific are already seeing high rates of coverage with AirAsia among one of the most IFCenabled LCCs in the world.
Only time will tell how the Asia Pacific, like other regions, emerges from the pandemic.
With the growing middle class in the Asia Pacific region, passengers are becoming savvier and expecting more.
Investment in onboard service upgrades is key, however in a post-2020 aviation
industry, this is something that may be hard to come by. It will be all about balance; managing expectation, while
matching the needs and wants of the regions’ growing passenger base.