As people grow accustomed to accessing free Wi-Fi on the ground, are they less willing to pay for inflight Wi-Fi? Preliminary data from an AirInsight survey suggests that while demand for inflight connectivity is clearly there, the willingness to pay is declining.
If validated, this could be an important finding.
“The inflight connectivity proposition continues to evolve. Hardware and embedded technologies are never going to catch up with PEDs. Consequently airlines have to keep focusing on offering Wi-Fi. But the pricing models are tough. Demand exists; there is no argument there. But what is a fair price to charge for this service in a world where airlines are ancillary revenue driven? Even as price points are rising, passengers remain wary,” says Addison Schonland of the AirInsight consultancy. “So much connectivity on the ground is free these days. Airlines cannot work with that, so where is the sweet spot?”
Certainly, some carriers have opted to offer free inflight Wi-Fi. And Japanese carrier Skymark is the latest to join this crew, announcing this week that it has selected Panasonic Avionics‘ Ku-band connectivity for its domestic A330s and eventually its long-haul A380s, and that the service will be offered free-of-charge to passengers. But this model is still an exception to the rule. That’s why AirInsight’s survey is trying to garner a better understanding of the sweet spot for Wi-Fi pricing, a subject that generates a fair amount of discussion on social media.
The company selected a very basic scenario – what would a passenger pay for inflight connectivity for 60 minutes? By completing the survey a respondent provides his or her own demand curve, including price points and likelihood of buying. Taking all responses together will give AirInsight an idea of what the market might look like.
“Last year we learned that – no surprise – the lower the price the higher the demand,” notes Schonland.
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