Two thirds of airlines in the Middle East are expected to operate connected aircraft by 2019, according to a report published ahead of the Connected Aircraft Conference in 2017.
Inmarsat’s annual In-flight Connectivity Survey has revealed that 81% of Middle Eastern passengers are willing to pay for in-flight connectivity even on short-haul leisure flights, rising to 85% for long-haul business flights. 59% agree that in-flight WiFi takes the anxiety out of flying because they can stay in contact with people on the ground. The increasing preference for in-flight connectivity is made all the more evident with 36% of the passengers saying they will stop using their preferred airline within the next year if they only offer poor quality WiFi.
The report further reveals that the Middle East has the highest volume of multi-device usage in all regions surveyed, with 66% of in-flight connectivity users connecting more than one device.
With the number of passengers globally due to double from 3.8 billion to 7.2 billion by 2035 and huge demand for on-board WiFi rising every year, bringing in-flight connectivity to aircraft is not only a huge opportunity for airlines but a critical business decision. Ben Griffin, VP, Middle East, Africa and South Asia at Inmarsat Aviation, said: “High-quality in-flight WiFi is changing the way people think about flying and how they spend their time in the air. Whether using the time to work, to connect with friends and family, or to pass time shopping or viewing entertainment, the availability of in-flight broadband has become a major factor when choosing an airline.”