Focus on: SITA ON AIR
SITAONAIR recently won an APEX Award for its personalised inflight connectivity project with Emirates. Richard Williams finds out more
SITAONAIR has worked with Emirates to harmonise its onboard wifi hub, Internet ONAIR, with the Emirates' loyalty programme, Skywards. The result is fleet-wide member benefits including complimentary 20mb of data, plus a tailored wifi package, based on membership tier and class of travel.
Dominique El Bez, SITAONAIR vp of strategy, explains: “We have met a real digital harmonisation challenge – integrating a pre-existing frequent flier programme within the Internet ONAIR wifi user experience to achieve a seamless experience across the airline's varied satellite connectivity systems.”
It is a problem many airlines face as they use suppliers with different systems and standards. Half have invested in two or more connectivity service providers, and the figure is 66% for non-U.S. airlines. That diversity of platforms, systems and vendors has resulted in inconsistent inflight connectivity services and understandable frustration as passengers question why portals, costs and log-ins vary between flights with the same carrier.
Multiple technologies make it hard for airlines to integrate and manage their IT infrastructure; having to duplicate efforts to integrate into their frequent flier programmes, or apps, for example. SITAONAIR's open platform vision seeks to address this problem by creating a harmonious onboard connectivity experience for both passengers and airlines, unhampered by past, present or future technology choices, or changes triggered by a particular supplier's product refresh cycle.
Said El Bez: “Currently a lot of attention is being given to bandwidth or new satellite options. We believe the next real innovation challenge is to achieve a richer, open platform approach to inflight connectivity. Just as Google's Android generated an explosion of cross-platform developments which transformed the mobile phone market, open system development will facilitate the next IFC revolution.”
He added that IFC services should be provided consistently on every frequency band across an open digital architecture, enabling airlines to integrate any digital systems and deliver consistent, costeffective connectivity services across satellite links and technology platforms, irrespective of fleet diversity and location.
He said: “Some years ago you could only check-in or buy tickets online if you were flying from certain airports, destinations or routes. Now they're the norm. We envisage this same harmonisation across airline fleets for IFC. The next
IFC revolution is therefore not about connectivity and bandwidth – it is about delivering its promises to passengers.”
Open system development will facilitate the next