Etihad Airways, which will next month become one of the few airlines in the world to offer fleet-wide inflight connectivity services, witnessed a dramatic surge in internet and mobile phone usage in 2014.
Reflecting the broader trend for people to use their personal devices for work and entertainment when travelling, the growth was driven largely by people logging onto Etihad Airways’ Wi-Fi network, with usage rising by 80% last year.
Increased demand for onboard mobile services also contributed to the surge in usage, with 2.6 million devices connecting to the airline’s onboard mobile network in 2014. Inflight texts and mobile phone calls increased by 62% and 61% respectively, compared to the same period in 2013.
iOS was the most popular operating system onboard, with 55% of the airline’s guests connecting to the internet with their iPads and iPhones, while 30% used devices running on Android’s operating system.
Etihad Airways’ Live TV service is also attracting strong interest and receiving positive feedback from travellers, with an average of 50,000 hours of live news and major sporting events being viewed each month.
Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said, “We continue to redefine our guests’ air travel experience with innovative products and services, the latest communication technology and entertainment systems that best fit their needs. When people travel, they want to stay connected with their work, their friends and their family. They also want to be kept up-to-date with 24 hour world news services. This is now possible for the entire journey on an Etihad Airways flight.”
The services comprising Wi-Fi, mobile connectivity and live television, combine the “Etihad Wi-Fly” solution, powered by the Panasonic Avionics Global Communications Suite, and OnAir’s inflight connectivity solution.
The high-speed broadband services enable passengers to access the internet from laptops, tablets and smartphones over Wi-Fi, allowing them to send emails, log onto their favourite social media sites, upgrade seats, change travel plans and much more, all from the comfort of their seats at 35,000 feet.
The mobile connectivity service allows passengers to use their mobile phones and smartphones to make and receive phone calls, send and read SMS text messages or email, use mobile data services to browse the web, and much more.
Now available on 43 wide-body aircraft, the Live TV service brings quality content from seven television channels including BBC World News, Sport 24 and CNN, the top three most viewed channels, and CNBC, euronews, Japan’s NHK World Premium, and Sky News Arabia.
The airline’s connected fleet comprises 92 passenger aircraft including 29 Airbus A319/320/321s, 26 A330s, 11 A340s, one A380, 24 Boeing 777 family aircraft and the first B787 Dreamliner, which serve routes across six continents. All future aircraft scheduled for delivery through 2015 will also be equipped with inflight connectivity.
Packages to access the internet start at US$5 and can be purchased using credit cards, PayPal and a range of other convenient payment methods. Mobile telephone usage will be billed by the passenger’s mobile service providers based on the international roaming rates levied by the service providers.