Jun 08, 2016

    Demand for in-flight Wi-Fi takes off in Asia-Pacific


    DEMAND for in-flight Wi-Fi has reached a new high among passengers in the Asia-Pacific region, with a new report showing that 90 per cent of those surveyed in the region said the availability of onboard connectivity would influence their choice of airlines.

    The report, released by Inmarsat, a London-based leading provider of global satellite communication services, involved a survey of more than 9,000 passengers worldwide who took a flight last year, and carried at least one personal electronic devices on board.

    Inmarsat said the Western market has a relatively lower demand, but the difference remains very small.

    Chinese passengers are very likely to use in-flight Wi-Fi - the country has the highest take-up of all the tested Asia-Pacific markets, the report revealed.

    Bill Peltola, Asia-Pacific regional director of Inmarsat Aviation, said: "The high demand of Chinese fliers (for) in-flight Wi-Fi is driven by their motivation of communication activities, and increased appetite to use mobile messaging apps like WeChat (China's major messaging app) and Weibo (China's major micro-blogging platform) on the ground."

    Du Ni, a 26-year-old office worker in Beijing, said: "I would bring books and an iPad with pre-downloaded TV dramas, or sleep, when I take a long-haul flight. If the Wi-Fi service is cheap enough, then I would choose it."

    Currently, only 3 per cent of aircraft operating in the Asia-Pacific region offer in-flight Wi-Fi services.

    Yet the report said two-thirds of respondents are willing to pay for unlimited internet usage during a flight, underscoring the tremendous potential for airlines to use it to attract more customers.

    In-flight Wi-Fi services emerged in the United States a few years ago, spread to Europe, then came to the Asia-Pacific region only recently.

    Most airlines decide on their own prices for Wi-Fi services, and passengers are able to pay beforehand when buying the tickets, or pay onboard.