Latest SITA insights reveal airline investment goals and passenger demands

Dominique el bez sitaonair

SITAONAIR’s analysis of parent company SITA’s latest IT Insights reports offers key forecasts into airlines’ investment strategies for the years ahead, and the passenger expectations behind them.

By Dominique El Bez, SITAONAIR Vice President, Product & Strategy

In two recent surveys SITA found that, while data is a strong area for development for airlines, passenger connectivity still lies at the heart of many of their investment plans for the next three years and beyond.

SITA’s 2018 Air Transport IT Insights report represents the views and insights of carriers representing 27% of global passenger traffic, providing a clear insight into IT strategic thinking and developments for the industry, while 2019’s Passenger IT Insights report represents over 70% of global passenger traffic, based on an online survey from 20 countries across the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Focus on airline data

The 2018 Air Transport IT Insights report reveals a steep increase in airlines focusing on data over the past two years, with 70% of airlines having plans for major research and development (R&D) projects by 2021. Additionally, 85% of airlines plan R&D programs into automatic aircraft data management.

Internet of Things initiatives

Previous Air Transport IT Insights surveys from 2016 and 2017 showed very few airlines using Internet of Things (IoT) -enabled initiatives. However, over the past year, there has been substantial growth in several areas.

More than one-third (41%) of airlines plan to initiate major R&D programs to enhance the mobile workforce through the real-time integration of sensors and mobile by 2021. And one-third of airlines now use IoT-enabled initiatives to monitor fuel and engines for increased efficiency.

At-home connectivity expectations

Inflight connectivity solutions are on the agenda for airlines to improve the passenger experience across the board, with 90% planning to invest in wireless broadband services for passengers over the next three years, a rise of 10% since 2017.

The most common benefit, expected by 62% of airlines, is an improved passenger experience gained from operating connected aircraft.

This digital shift signals that recent investment into major programs is paying off. Passengers now expect like-at-home connectivity as standard, demonstrated by the fact that only 12% of airlines surveyed have not yet ordered connected aircraft delivery.

Giving passengers the IT they want

Analysis of SITA’s 2019 Passenger IT Insights research sheds further light on exactly why airlines are so keen to invest in passenger experience improvements. It shows that not only do 70% of passengers engage with technology inflight, but this engagement actually makes passengers happier. The report found a significant 8% increase in satisfaction in passengers using technology inflight, whether for productivity or entertainment.

The new research also provides an interesting insight into consumer trends and possible opportunities for airlines to better monetize digital services inflight. It shows that 42% of passengers will connect to Wi-Fi on a flight and 35% to inflight cellular services. However, these figures fall to 12% and 14% respectively when removing the option of free connections, suggesting that, while pricing will play a central role in passenger take-up, advances in connectivity could present significant revenue-generating opportunities for airlines.

Harnessing the power of connectivity

SITAONAIR’s Vice President of Strategy, Dominique El Bez, says: “The air transport industry has seen a huge shift towards connected aircraft over the past two years. As the technology has matured, the spirit of innovation and partnership has begun to influence current and future investment priorities for airlines and SITAONAIR is proud to enable airlines to harness the power of connectivity.

“As a trusted industry leader, SITAONAIR is changing the game with state-of-the-art, neutral aircraft data management services, designed to bring significant benefits to airlines and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Meanwhile, in a key development for the air transport industry, continuous improvements to our ‘open platforms’ approach are turning the aircraft IoT concept into a reality, as seen with the pioneering project we undertook with AirBridgeCargo last year.

“In the cabin, we’re helping airlines meet the demands of the connected passenger through our seamless, interactive Wi-Fi portal, Internet ONAIR, which, in March 2018 alone, delivered more than one million Wi-Fi sessions to Emirates customers. Alongside our cellular and IFC enhancements, we’re providing choice to airlines, enabling them to tailor their offers to specific passenger demands.

“We’re also working alongside regional authorities and telecoms communities to educate and enable them for the provision of new IFC regulations, benefitting local economies and international airlines alike.

“We’re committed to launching airlines into a connected future – helping them stay ahead of emerging trends and creating more cost-effective, future-proof, harmonious turn-key solutions through our innovation and collaborations.”

Discover SITAONAIR’s complete nose-to-tail connected aircraft portfolio – enhancing passenger experience, operational efficiencies, and unlocking inflight connectivity’s true value – by exploring

Read the full SITA reports here:

Air Transport IT Insights 2018

Passenger IT Insights 2019