Frontier’s new owner sees diminishing role for embedded IFE

LiveTV.jpg

Frontier Airlines’ new owner believes embeddedin-flight entertainment will play a diminishing role as in-flightconnectivity is adopted by carriers.

Speaking to journalists yesterday at the Regional Airline Association(RAA) convention in Milwaukee, Bryan Bedford, chief executive ofFrontier parent Republic Airways, said: “How much of the media [nowonboard] will go portable? [I think we will] see reduced demand for IFEand more for connectivity.”

Frontier is equipping its E-Jets with Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi. Asked byRWG if Frontier will also equip its Airbus narrowbodies with theservice, Bedford said the carrier will make that decision “six to ninemonths” after testing Gogo on the E-Jets.

Bedford is a big fan of the LiveTV offered on Frontier’s A318s, A319sand A320s, but he doesn’t see a place for it on the E-Jets. “The LiveTVtake rate on sectors over two hours is quite substantial. Under twohours is not as robust,” he says.

He notes that technology is moving quickly. “Who knows what technology will bring us in 2011 onboard [aircraft].”

Republic, meanwhile, has aligned the delivery dates of its CSeriesaircraft with existing expiration dates on Frontier’s Airbus A319s.

The first of 40 CSeries CS300s will be delivered to Frontier in the second quarter of 2015.

Bedford says the single-class 138-seat aircraft gives Frontier hugeflexibility to either “stay neutral” by accepting CSeries deliverieswhile returning A319s to their owners or to grow by extending the A319leases.

So will Frontier offer in-flight connectivity on its CSeries? It seemslikely. Whether live television will continue to be part of theFrontier offering in the coming years appears to be the big question mark,however, especially as A319s exit the fleet.

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5 Responses to Frontier’s new owner sees diminishing role for embedded IFE

  1. David Parker Brown May 27, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

    It makes sense. With WiFi you can do so much more. Plus passengers pay for WiFi, not the basic LiveTV. I would be curious to know how much money an airline makes off the options on LiveTV vs WiFi?!

    David

  2. CJL May 28, 2010 at 2:35 am #

    I’m not convinced that this makes sense. I speak as a long haul passenger, whose lifestyle only really allows me to see films in the confines of a 12 hour flight. So I guess that taking away IFE and giving me connectivity allows me to CHOOSE to pay for a film download? The films are currently free on flights, and unless that changes, I’d like things to stay the way they are. I find it VERY unlikely that airlines would reduce fares with removal of IFE, and highly likely that we’d be charged for connectivity (so actually charged for connectivity AND then for any content I may want to watch – double?).

    As I’ve indicated before, I find it hard to get excited about connectivity. Those long flights can be very tiring, and constant tapping on keyboards could be a source of irritation for many. With 3-400 people so closely packed together, you can’t live your life as you would want to – needs to be some degree of “sacrifice”.

    Short flights where people aren’t necessarily planning to relax? Sounds reasonable enough.

    Long haul, where sleep is a required factor? I think
    we need to evaluate what is reasonable, and how people can be given a chance to relax in a quiet environment.

    Maybe that space at the front of the upper decks of A380′s could be turned into internet cafe’s??

  3. Mary Kirby May 28, 2010 at 11:36 am #

    I consider IFE a bare necessity on long-haul flights. http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/runway-girl/2010/05/embedded-ife-is-ah-ah-ah-ah-st.html

  4. PW June 11, 2010 at 6:57 am #

    Not until airlines offer (a) free download in-flight to your PED of latest movies and (b) free charging of PEDs would I agree that installed IFE can go away. I think the first is the biggest challenge. How often have you said to yourself, “Oh, darn, I forgot to download a movie/TV show to watch for my next flight”, or worse, “it took too long to download from my hotel room, and couldn’t get it in time”? Seat-back IFE is a welcome respite to these problems (aside from the bigger screen that you don’t have to share table space with your food–which is precisely when I typically watch a film!), and if airlines take it away they better make using your own PED as welcome, or else passengers will select airlines that retain it instead.

    And how many families will bring a PED for every family member?

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