Air India, Vistara welcome telecom panel's nod for in-flight connectivity, hope move will add to passengers' convenience
Major airlines, including Air India and Vistara, on Tuesday welcomed the Telecom Commission's nod for use of WiFi and voice services in-flight
Air India and Vistara, on Tuesday, welcomed the Telecom Commission's nod for the use of Wi-Fi and voice services within an aircraft, with civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu saying he will ensure “earliest implementation” of the proposal.
When the decision comes into effect roughly in three to four months time, passengers can use mobile phones for both voice and data services, in the Indian airspace, on domestic and international flights.
“We welcome the decision as it will mean more convenience to air travellers. We will study the recommendations in details and in due course determine the economics of offering on domestic and international route,” Vistara, which is gearing up for international operations, said in a statement, welcoming the development.
The Telecom Commission's approval on Tuesday is a win-win situation both for the airline and for travellers in general and we welcome it, said an Air India spokesperson, stating that they are analysing the announcement in detail before commenting further on the issue.
But, both IndiGo and SpiceJet said they are also studying the matter in detail before making any comments.
The major take-away from the decision is access to the Internet, which can be provided once the aircraft is ready for take-off. Prabhu said that he will ensure "earliest implementation" of the proposal as the government remains committed to improving services for passengers and making their travel delightful and hassle-free.
“Providing passenger amenities have been the endeavour of the Narendra Modi government. We are constantly upgrading our services. This (decision) will go a long way in making sure people will be using the flying time more productively and efficiently,” the civil aviation minister said in a video message from South Africa.
“This move will also help so many hours not being wasted which would be fruitfully and gainfully,” he added, describing the move as "exciting times ahead in Indian skies".
According to Amber Dubey, partner and India head of aerospace and defence at global consultancy KPMG, passengers may not be averse to paying Rs 200-300 for data on a two to three-hour flight, and charges could be more for international flights. “Premium and corporate passengers may get the service free,” he told PTI.
Dubey said that in 12-24 months, the Wi-Fi service may become completely free like it is in hotels. For the airlines, it may provide an alternate revenue opportunity through advertisements and fee from online transactions.
“Overall, it's a great move albeit a bit late,” he said. Dubey, however, felt that airlines will find it difficult to ground their aircraft for retrofits. This may be easier to implement on new aircraft deliveries, he added.
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