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Strong demand for Wi-fi in Middle East to improve in-flight productivity: Survey

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ETW StaffMumbai

A new survey released by Honeywell Aerospace reveals that Middle East travellers expect to stay connected at 30,000 feet with fast and consistent in-flight wireless connectivity. Honeywell found that passengers are predominantly looking to stay connected when flying long-haul to stay productive and in contact, such as by checking email and accessing social media sites to reading the latest news. The research conducted online surveyed more than 1,300 adults across the Middle East and revealed that passengers’ online requirements are similar in the sky to that at home, indicating a shift toward always being connected.

Although Wi-Fi is still a flourishing amenity on many flights, the survey revealed that 76 per cent of respondents view access to in-flight connectivity as a vital or important service for business or leisure use. Middle East passengers are choosing to spend their in-flight hours reading business and leisure email, accessing social networks and watching television rather than sleeping.

More than half of respondents want to access Wi-Fi for business reasons, and the high number of overall respondents rating Wi-Fi as important or vital indicates that passengers may select an airline based on the availability of in-flight connectivity. The survey results point toward the continued emergence of the Middle East as a destination to conduct business. The interest in such a service also suggests that passengers are focused on making time spent in the cabin as productive and efficient as possible.

Aileen McDowall, vice president, Air Transport and Regional EMEAI, Honeywell Aerospace, said, “The Middle East aerospace industry is experiencing rapid expansion, and technology, and innovation is vital for meeting passenger demand. With people wanting to stay online when flying and with faster connectivity on personal devices, we are seeing a growing trend toward the cabin always being connected. Our survey results show that passengers may take the availability of in-flight broadband into account when selecting an airline, and indicate that cabin connectivity could be a major service differentiator and value-added revenue stream for the region’s airlines in the coming years.”

Whether travelling for business or pleasure, passengers want to stay connected with the ground. In fact many passengers are willing to forego certain in-flight comforts in exchange for on-board Wi-Fi so they can participate in such activities. Survey results conclude that:

There are fewer passengers in the UAE who have accessed Wi-Fi in-flight for both business and pleasure (27 per cent) compared with Saudi Arabia (53 per cent). A higher percentage (44 per cent) among UAE respondents use the Internet for leisure only.

For respondents who indicated in-flight connectivity was vital or important, approximately two in three use Wi-Fi to communicate with family and friends or to work, and one in four access entertainment online.

Passengers are willing to forego traditional amenities for access to in-flight Wi-Fi. More than a third of respondents (35 per cent) would consider giving up a preferred window or aisle seat, and nearly a quarter (22 per cent) say they would forfeit an in-flight beverage service.

In-flight wireless connectivity is in demand, and passengers are willing to make tradeoffs to use it, especially for business purposes. The following survey results indicate the value passengers place on staying connected to do business while making longer trips either for business or leisure:

More survey respondents (45 per cent) are likely to pay for Wi-Fi to take care of business tasks while in flight; however, there is a resistance to paying for the service to handle personal tasks.

Overall, fewer would consider purchasing Wi-Fi for short-haul flights (47 per cent) within the Middle East region compared with purchasing such services for long-haul flights (70 per cent) outside the Middle East.

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