The airline has asked Thales to make a presentation on the feasibility of setting up such a service on flights. In the past, the French company has retrofit avionics and In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) of Air India and Indian Airlines (Airbus and Boeing fleets), set up critical avionics to low cost Airline IndiGo and Jet Airways, critical avionics, IFE and Full Flight Simulators (FFS) for Kingfisher Airlines, navigational aids to Airport Authority of India and simulators with Kingfisher for A320 and ATR.
Air India wants to be the first Indian carrier to offer this service and they are also looking at it as a way to boost revenue.
Everyone’s doing it: Internationally several carriers such as Aerofloat, Air Canada, British Airways, EgyptAir, Emirates, Etihad, Finnair, Hong Kong Airlines, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, Saudia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, TAM, TAP, Turkish, Air Canada, Airtran, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, United and Virgin America offer this service or are in the process of setting it up. There are several companies that set up such infrastructure such as OnAir, Panasonic Avionics, Row 44, ViaSat and Gogo, so it’s not clear how Air India narrowed it down to Thales.
Gogo, has set up in-flight WiFi for US companies have noted that the adoption rate has been pretty low. On an average, only 6.2% passengers on a flight use the service and people does not seem to be adopting the service fast enough. It is not clear what the adoption rate is like for the international carriers which fly longer flights. There is a higher chance of people using WiFi on such long-haul flights than on domestic flights.
How much will it cost: Gogo has several packages depending ranging from $14-$49 which you can pick depending on how much time you spend flying in a month. OnAir on the other hand has been targeting international players and help set up WiFi on Emirates back in 2011. They were charging $7.50 for mobile devices and $15 for laptops, but it’s not clear what the current rates are.
That being in the case, it is not clear how much Air India will charge for the same. Charging a customer $15 for a six hour flight might be okay, but it needs to be seen how many people will be willing up pay up so much for shorter domestic flights. Also, the part no one talks about the speed of these connections and we can only speculate on that front as of now.