In my previous post I suggested to take the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity for airlines to review and reframe their connectivity strategy at large, such that it can truly accelerate the digitization of air travel. The target must be nothing less than to provide an affordable broadband connection for every aircraft and every passenger. Too ambitious? Not at all – what the telco industry achieved already a decade ago on the ground can be achieved for Inflight Connectivity (IFC) as well, by extending some of the proven business principles and technologies of mobile communications into the skies. I believe that three things matter most:
Do you still remember the launch of the first iPhone in 2007? Following the fulminant market disruption, it set off a virtuous circle of application innovation and the unprecedented proliferation of mobile broadband services. The exponential growth of mobile data traffic since then is a testament to that. The ingredients for a similar disruption in the skies are available today: Air-to-Ground (A2G) is the technology that features the performance required by connected aircraft, supports flat data tariffs for airlines, and is built upon 4G and 5G standards for economies of scale and an open ecosystem. What’s more, together with Mobile Network Operators we can also establish a business model that meets the specific financial requirements of airlines post COVID-19 – here is what I mean:
To expand on the last point: for Mobile Network Operators, unlike airlines, connecting people is the core business, and their capabilities to market, sell, and take care of subscriptions are undisputed. By once more extending proven business principles and technologies of mobile communications also into the cabin, we could remove the three key barriers to adoption and boost usage of cabin Internet services:
Again, the ingredients for making all of this happen are available today. The proposed financial models greatly reduce the exposure of airlines, in response to the current COVID-19 situation. Some people still might say: all good, but not now. But I think that ubiquitous connectivity as a driver of cost reduction as well as for ancillary profit have never been more important for airlines. More about that in part 3 of our little series.
Chief Commercial Officer
Dirk Lindemeier is Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer of SkyFive. He previously spent 19 years with Nokia in telecommunications, and before that 10 years in military aviation. Until today, Dirk also enjoys being a private pilot.