In-flight services - Statistics & Facts

Published by E. Mazareanu, Jan 17, 2019
In-flight services are additional offerings, both free and paid, provided by airlines to improve their passengers’ flying experience. This includes not only food, beverages and duty free shopping, but also the provision of entertainment services and internet access via Wi-Fi. The latter two are becoming increasingly common, with a growing expectation among passengers – especially in North America – that flights will offer in-flight entertainment and internet connectivity (IFEC). This is creating an opportunity for airlines to generate additional revenue. In a 2017 survey, over three quarters airline passengers worldwide stated that they would pay for Wi-Fi on their next flight.

This growing expectation that IFEC will be offered, combined with an increasing number of aircraft fitted with IFEC capabilities, and the ability of airlines to monetize IFEC service, is making this form of in-flight service more and more important to the global airline industry. As of 2017, there were around 7,400 aircraft worldwide with Wi-Fi capabilities, the majority of which were in the United States. This number is expected to triple by 2027, both as the global airline fleet grows, and as other regions catch up. Combined with the capacity for further monetization, the revenue generated by in-flight connectivity is expected to grow from 1.5 billion U.S. dollars to 8.7 billion U.S. dollars over this period.

With the increasing prevalence of in-flight Wi-Fi, previous forms of in-flight entertainment are starting to be replaced by streaming services to passengers’ personal electronic devices. As of 2017, more than half of U.S. airlines were offering in-flight entertainment through streaming services – more than the number of airlines using portable, overhead and seatback solutions combined. However, just under half of passengers worldwide still prefer seatback solutions, compared to around one third who would rather stream content to their personal portable device (for example smartphones, tablets and laptop computers).

Despite the increasing importance of IFEC, the airline catering market remains dominant within the in-flight services sector. As of 2018, the global airline catering market was worth 18.8 billion U.S. dollars, a figure expected to grow to 28 billion U.S. dollars by 2026. The two largest providers of airline catering are Gategroup and LSG Group, both of which are far larger any of their nearby competitors. Together they accounted for around 44 percent of the global market in 2016.

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In-flight services

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In-flight entertainment

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