Not so very long ago, a then nubile Runway Girl blog noted that the adoption by US carriers of in-seat live satellite television – together with connectivity services – was a growing trend. Despite serious industry challenges of late, some airlines are keen to keep this trend alive. And LiveTV appears well-placed to capture a nice chunk of that combination business. After chatting to the JetBlue Airways subsidiary, it sounds like they’re poised to announce another US major as a customer.
This follows last year’s rather substantial agreement by Continental Airlines to install LiveTV across a large portion of its Boeing narrowbody fleet. While airlines “are distracted”, by current operating conditions, many are eager to get a jump on the competition in terms of in-flight entertainment and connectivity, says LiveTV VP of sales and marketing Mike Moeller.
JetBlue was once content for LiveTV to simply supply its own fleet and those of other US low-cost carriers (Frontier, WestJet) with live television and the promise of basic connectivity. Now the message from above is “go forth and prosper young man”, says Moeller.
To do that, LiveTV needs the right partners in place. The company recently awarded a $20.1 million multi-year contract to KVH Industries to design, develop and build DirecTV satellite antennas for narrow-bodied commercial aircraft. Moeller says LiveTV hasn’t replaced long-time antenna supplier EMS, but that it needs “multiple vendors to be able to meet the level we’re going at”.
A regular reader of this blog and in-flight connectivity enthusiast recently took the time to listen to KVH’s conference call. He reports back that KVH is building and delivering to a very detailed specification, and that the requirement for the FAA and the STC certification is actually LiveTV’s requirement.
Obviously there is a lot more to discuss on this subject, and other issues now facing IFE and in-flight connectivity players. Heck, Delta Air Lines – which boasts a transcontinental fleet of Panasonic IFE-equipped aircraft – has just selected Aircell’s Internet service for its entire domestic fleet of 330 mainline aircraft. That’s the same Delta that posted a $1 billion loss in the second quarter.
I’m currently enjoying some R&R on the banks of Torch Lake, Michigan (thus the reason why things have been a little quiet here lately). But bear with me. We’re heading into the fun season. WAEA’s annual conference and exhibition and the co-located Aircraft Interiors Expo are just around the corner.