Shahzad Qureshi (November 5, 2014)
Emirates is one of the few airlines in the world to provide Wi-Fi connectivity to its passengers. According to statistics, in the last three years, half a million passengers have enjoyed onboard internet connectivity. As smartphones have gained popularity, it has increased the demand for onboard Wi-Fi services.
The airline is investing over US$20 million annually on installing and operating inflight connectivity systems. Currently, all of Emirates’ 53 A380s and 28 Boeing 777s have Wi-Fi service enabled for customers. The airline plans to have Wi-Fi service for the entire fleet.
Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline in a statement said that demand for Wi-Fi services is set to exponentially increase as more and more people carry smartphones and other portable devices. He further added that Wi-Fi service adds value to Emirates’ overall product lineup, since it is not a primary revenue source for the company. He said that the airline would be delighted to provide free Wi-Fi connections for everyone onboard if the company incurred no costs. He explained how in the future, the cost supporting hardware and software could be reduced as Wi-Fi services become a standard in the industry.
Currently, planes equipped with Wi-Fi connections allow 10MBs of data for free, which is adequate for social media account. A charge of US$1 is imposed for the next 600MB data. The ongoing upgrades to the Wi-Fi system will allow the airline to have unlimited free access to internet.
Emirates reported daily average of 3,500 passengers using onboard Wi-Fi in October. An Emirates flight of A380 recorded the highest number of Wi-Fi users, as 153 passengers connected to the plane’s Wi-Fi. The airline experienced 200% spike in Wi-Fi usage in October owing to promotional offers. The data collected by the airline revealed the most frequently visited sites which include Google, Facebook and Skype. Additional, smartphone users used WhatsApp, BBM and other chat services. This reflects passengers’ demand for onboard Wi-Fi services to stay connected.
In order to improve the customer experience, 36 dedicated airport lounges of Emirates around the world are already Wi-Fi enabled, offering complimentary Wi-Fi connectivity to its customers.
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