Qatar chief speaks up in support of legacy IFE systems

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Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker has made the case that “it is better to stay with legacy systems” for in-flight entertainment because technology that allows passengers to stream movies to mobile devices via onboard wi-fi “is in its infancy”.

Speaking at the recent ITB travel trade show in Berlin, Al Baker offered his take on Lufthansa’s plan for short-haul flights to fit 20 Airbus A321s with the BoardConnect system, which will give passengers access to an “infotainment” server using their own laptop, tablet or smartphone. “We would prefer not to introduce something like that but to give you a very high-class entertainment system,” said the Qatar chief.

Al Baker notes that the weight penalty imposed by installation of IFE equipment is diminishing. “With today’s technology, the IFE system that you install on the aeroplane is really not very heavy and, as it progresses, it will get lighter,” says Al Baker. He estimates that a new IFE system Qatar is installing on A330s is a third the weight of its predecessor.

Upgrades that Qatar is making to A320 narrowbodies and A330 widebodies include the provision of wi-fi, satellite TV, and mobile texting facilities on the jets.

Such amenities will also be available on its A350s and A380s. Qatar has 10 A380s on order, the first three of which are scheduled for delivery in June. The airline expects to receive its first A350 by year-end.