Connectivity on aircraft is becoming increasingly important for airlines to offer, Emirates’ vice president UK & Ireland Laurie Berryman told Travel Daily this week.
Live television services have been one of the Dubai-based carrier’s growing areas in recent years, highlighted during the World Cup. When one flight during the tournament took off from Dusseldorf, around 98% of the aircraft tuned in to watch Germany play. WiFi and mobile connectivity is also important.
“Some of our business passengers will change their plans based on whether the aircraft has WiFi,” Berryman said.
WiFi is now on 53 of Emirates’ Airbus A380s and 28 Boeing 777s but is retrofitting its aircraft to enable the service across all its services.
Berryman’s comments echoed those of Emirates president Tim Clark who earlier this week predicted in-flight WiFi will be offered free as standard in the future.
“We’ve always viewed Wi-Fi as a service and a value-added part of Emirates’ overall product, rather than a revenue stream,” said Clark. “If we can offer good quality Wi-Fi connections for everyone onboard at no charge tomorrow, we will do it. But we face a slew of technical limitations, from speed and bandwidth availability and cost, to the supporting hardware and software, all of which we are working hard to address with the industry right now.”
The airline’s next financial results will be available later this month, although Berryman said its numbers had continued to increase this summer.
“Similarly to other companies our summer was a little late and August was our busiest month. October half term has been one of the busiest we’ve had and looking ahead into 2015 bookings are very healthy,” he said. “The referendum had an impact in Scotland and many waited for the outcome until they travelled. Perhaps similarly the General Election could put a dampener on travel as some might want to see what happens.”