The two major in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems manufacturers have won large contracts with three Asian carriers.

Thales will announce today that Korean Air has selected its TopSeries in-flight entertainment and connectivity services across its fleet of 52 aircraft, comprising 10 B787s and 23 B777s as well as retrofitting its 19 Airbus A330 aircraft. The airline also includes the option for 14 additional aircraft. First aircraft deliveries will take place in March 2009. Thales has also won a large Air India order to kit out its fleet of 27 787s.

Meanwhile rival Panasonic has been selected by Cathay Pacific Airways to provide a complete IFE solution, including a maintenance package to power the airline’s in-flight entertainment. Panasonic’s eX2 system will be operated on the airline’s long-haul fleet of B747s, B777s and Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft.


Alan Pelligrini, vice-president and general manager of Thales’ IFE business, says: “These deals solidify our market position in the region. It is a relevant and important market for us and we have a strong desire to grow here.” Panasonic’s CEO Paul Margis says: "We are proud to work so closely with Cathay Pacific. Our advanced eX2 product and total care package are designed to complement Cathay Pacific’s in-flight entertainment vision.”

According to Pelligrini, IFE is becoming a real differentiator among regional airlines. “We offer a portfolio of applications for our clients to choose from. We work creatively with airlines to customise the user experience. The trend is for more IFE even on the smallest aircraft serving moderate length routes.

For example Kingfisher runs 16 TV channels on two or three hour domestic routes.” Thales says that many services are supplemented by connectivity services, offering the facility to use mobile phones and handheld devices. With a 25% increase in air traffic movements in the region and a population with more spending power than ever, IFE is becoming an increasingly important part of airline brand identity.

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Source: Flight Daily News