A study of in-flight Wi-Fi options is underway for Frontier and Midwest Airlines by the new owner of both carriers - Republic Airways Holdings.
Frontier emerged from its Chapter 11 restructuring on 1 October as a subsidiary of Republic Airways Holdings. Republic closed on its purchase of Midwest Airlines on 31 July.
Frontier head Sean Menke was recently named Republic's chief marketing officer responsible for strategy, planning, sales, marketing distribution and customer experience for both Frontier and Republic.
In a recent interview with ATI Menke said Republic management is fully steeped in crafting the 2010 business plan for Frontier and Midwest. "One thing we're spending a lot of time on is connectivity," he says.
One of Midwest's main rivals in the Milwaukee market AirTran Airways aggressively equipped its fleet over the summer to offer the Gogo connectivity solution supplied by Aircell. Other Gogo customers include Air Canada, American, Virgin America, Delta-Northwest, United, US Airways and Virgin America. At present only AirTran and Virgin America offer Gogo fleet-wide. Delta is in the midst of equipping its fleet and American plans to equip a large portion of its domestic fleet with Gogo capabilities.
Recently AirTran CFO Arne Haak told ATI that while the carrier has a confidentiality agreement with Aircell and cannot reveal high-level details of Gogo usage, customer response to the product has been positive. Echoing similar comments from other carriers offering Gogo, he says the product in general has a wider use on long-haul flights and among business travellers.
Haak says that "if you pay close attention" Aircell is trying different ideas to evaluate optimal pricing.
In July of this year Aircell introduced a rate of $5.95 for flights that are 90 minutes or less, and a 24-hour option for $12.95 that covers multiple flights on a carrier during a single day. Those pricing points join standard rates of $12.95 on three-hour plus long haul flights and $9.95 on legs lasting less than three hours.
Menke, meanwhile, says that the LiveTV product that is a signature of Frontier's inflight service might not be ideal to introduce into Midwest's product offerings. Frontier's average flights from are two-and-a-half hours while the average Midwest flight from Milwaukee is roughly one-and-a-half hours. Frontier was an early adapter of LiveTV. The carrier began introducing seatback television for a fee in 2002.