EasyJet believes inflight Wi-Fi will be the norm within a few years but is in no hurry to install it, preferring instead to wait for the price to fall and the quality to rise.
“Wi-Fi is just going to become normal over the next few years,” EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall told analysts at a full-year financial results conference earlier this month. “I think at the moment it’s still a little bit high price and you just won’t get the return on that.”
McCall adds that the UK-based airline is “not getting an avalanche of customers saying they want Wi-Fi” at the moment, but concedes that it will end up offering the service in the not-too-distant future.
“If you put it [Wi-Fi] on a plane today, it’s going to be quite patchy. It’s not going to be great Wi-Fi,” says McCall. “This is not an area necessarily to be a first-mover on, but when it becomes a lot more mass-available at the right price and, actually, when it is a better quality then I think all of us will have it.”
Providing inflight Wi-Fi would add another string to EasyJet’s bow in terms of making the airline more attractive to business passengers. The carrier has already thrown allocated seating, flexi-fares and global distribution service (GDS) channels into the mix.
But McCall is keen to point out that, at its core, EasyJet remains a low-cost airline. “A lot of what we’re doing is completely optional for the passenger.
“They can still choose, if they want to, to travel exactly the way they did 19 years ago,” she says. EasyJet recently celebrated its 19th birthday. Passengers can still simply “turn up, buy a ticket, board a plane, get off”, says McCall.
“They don’t have to have an allocated seat, they don’t have to buy food, et cetera. The low-cost operating model is absolutely in tact.”