New Delhi: State owned Air India is planning to get Wi-Fi on both its wide body and narrow body planes that are used for international and domestic flights, respectively, for a fee. It will be first of its kind in Indian aviation.
AI chairman Rohit Nandan has set up a panel of top AI officials to examine the technical aspects and ensure that onboard Wi-Fi connectivity happens in a cost-neutral way for the airline and in fact helps the Maharaja earn some money. The world’s leading in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) company, Thales of France, has been asked to make a presentation to AI management at the earliest.
“There are two aspects of providing Wi-Fi on planes. While the hardware will have be installed on aircraft, Thales is perhaps the only company globally that provides the software and connectivity for internet connectivity in air. We want to be the first Indian carrier to offer internet on board and have asked Thales to respond as early as possible,” said a senior official.
A number of US carriers and other big players like Singapore Airlines and Emirates provide internet access on their aircraft. Airline industry sources say most airlines charge a fee for this service. “It has so far not been very successful abroad. We will examine all pros and cons of the same from an Indian perspective,” said an official.
“Thanks to our brand new planes, we have the youngest average age of 3.5 for an aircraft in India. The old gen A-320s are being phased out. The new fleet should have the latest technology like Wi-Fi and we are working towards that,” said an official.
“All this is fine. But AI must improve its on time performance (OTP). The first thing passengers want is that their flight departs and arrives on time. Everything else is secondary. AI’s OTP is among the lowest in the country. It should improve its punctuality and then look at other fancier stuff,” said an industry observer who did not wish to be named.