Millennium Post

'Foreign airlines could benefit from govt's nod to onboard data service'

New Delhi: Foreign airlines could be the immediate beneficiaries of the government's recent nod to onboard voice and data connectivity as the domestic players were not yet equipped for internet services, according to an aviation consultancy firm.
Meanwhile, a global airline IT solution major feels the price point for domestic flights in India offering the voice and data services "will need to be appropriate".
Aviation consultancy firm Centre for Asia Pacific (CAPA) said foreign carriers will be the first to offer onboard connectivity in Indian airspace as domestic carriers were not yet equipped for wifi.
In a statement, the CAPA suggested that Indian carriers were expected to implement WiFi on international services in due course, particularly long haul flights.
On the other hand, SITA ONAIR, which has been part of public consultations conducted by TRAI and offers in-flight connectivity to over 30 major airlines globally, said that airlines today see connectivity as an essential element and over 91 per cent of the airlines worldwide are investing on in-flight wireless services.
On the pricing issue, it said a lot depended on a number of factors including how the airline wished to monetise the services and said it is keen to work with the Indian airlines once the rules are in place.
SITA ONAIR's comments were sought against the backdrop of some industry insiders apprehending that such services could prove expensive especially for low-cost airlines and passengers given the cost involved in putting up the equipment.
"In India, for domestic flights, clearly the price point will need to be appropriate. There is no useful, generalised position. But it is clear that these services will increasingly be demanded by passengers," SITA ONAIR General Counsel Oliver Drennan said.
It is also important to note that airline business models to increase ancillary revenue through in-flight services will determine pricing, Drennan said.
"These models open up new ways for airlines to engage with their passengers with relevant, personalised content. They also create the potential for third party partnerships to develop new marketing programmes and sponsorship opportunities that can contribute to reducing pricing options for passengers," Drennan said.
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