If offering world-class inflight entertainment to passengers was on your 2024 bingo card for Air India, congratulations! The Tata-owned airline has announced plans to completely overhaul its IFE offering by licensing a “colossal library” of content for its new Airbus A350s and leased Boeing 777-200LRs, which feature Panasonic Avionics’ in-seat IFE from nose to tail.
Also, as part of its US$400 million refurbishment of Boeing 787-8s and 777-300ERs, the carrier will install new in-seat IFE systems on these vintage aircraft. Aircraft retrofits are scheduled to start this year and will also see new seats installed across cabin classes. As each twinjet is fitted and pressed back into service, passengers will be able to avail of Air India’s vast new content library via the IFE.
Over 2,200 hours of entertainment across formats and genres, says Air India, including 1,000 hours of movies, 600 hours of TV, and 600 hours of audio.
“From Bollywood blockbusters to Hollywood premieres, global music icons to captivating documentaries and the new Air India Radio, the world’s best content will now be at the fingertips of Air India guests,” vows the airline, sharing pictures with RGN from aboard the first A350.
The launch of its own Air India Radio channel is a fun, meta move for the carrier. The channel will feature podcasts, a music collection of 800 choices from every genre, and over 60 curated playlists.
Binge-watchers, meanwhile, will be accommodated with over 40 full series of TV.
Notably, Air India will serve as a showcase for Indian content, boasting what the airline assures will be “the largest library of Indian content in the skies”. Hollywood movies, including BAFTA and Oscar-winning titles, and international fare are also part of the line-up.
Films from around the world will span 14 languages, says Air India, including French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Danish, Icelandic, and Dutch.
In a testament to Air India’s eagerness to entertain its guests, the carrier will feature a selection of titles from the biggest streaming and OTT platforms, including Paramount, HBO, Prime, Sony Liv, and Hulu. The content will be cached on board — i.e. stored in a server — rather than streamed over a live inflight connectivity pipe.
Asked by RGN if any of Air India’s widebodies will offer IFC, the spokesman said intriguingly: “Wi-Fi, nothing announced yet!”
Air India will, however, debut Panasonic Avionics’ Arc immersive inflight map experience on its new A350s. It accepted delivery of its first A350 in December 2023.
The first A350, as seen here, is kitted nose-to-tail with Panasonic’s eX3 high-definition IFE system, including 12” HD touchscreens in economy, 13.3” screens in premium economy and 21” displays in business class. Active noise-cancelling headsets will be provided to business and premium economy guests, whilst reusable earphones will be distributed in economy.
When passengers think of world-class IFE content line-ups, names like Emirates, Turkish Airlines and Delta often spring to mind. But if Air India keeps its library fresh, it might find itself snagging some gongs as well.
Campbell Wilson, CEO & Managing Director of Air India, says: “As Air India takes flight into a new era with the arrival of our A350 aircraft, so does our guests’ entertainment experience. This complete overhaul in our inflight entertainment offering mirrors the dynamic transformation underway at Air India.
“We’re redefining what it means to fly with us, and this world-class IFE system and carefully curated content are a cornerstone of that commitment.”
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All images credited to Air India