In-flight connectivity: Number of connected aircraft could double by 2030

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on many global sectors, including the aviation industry. Leading global strategists at Euroconsult have analyzed the impact on the In-Flight Connectivity market in a comprehensive new edition of their Prospects for In-Flight Entertainment & Connectivity report.

Paris, Washington D.C., Montreal, Yokohama, Sydney, August 23, 2021 – After an unprecedented year for the aviation industry, given the global impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading international consulting and market intelligence firm Euroconsult have released the ninth edition of their report that analyses in-flight connectivity in commercial and business aviation.

IFEC service revenues - Prospects for in-flight Entertainment & Connectivity

The report, entitled Prospects for In-Flight Entertainment & Connectivity (IFEC) 2021 provides a comprehensive analysis of the market’s global trends and forecasts for the next decade, in terms of connectivity provided to onboard passengers. It also presents an analysis of the impact on the market over the past year from factors relating to the pandemic, such as nationwide lockdowns, grounded flights and inaccessibility for new installations due to closed borders, estimating that in-flight connectivity service revenues dropped by almost one-third, totaling $970 million.

Euroconsult anticipate that the recovery of the IFEC market will depend on the recovery of the aviation industry, and the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. Based on two scenarios, high case and low case, the analysis forecasts that the total number of connected aircraft will reach between 16,000 and 20,000 by the end of this decade. This number is lower in relation to previous forecasts, as a further result of the pandemic.

The IFEC report assesses multiple other effects that the pandemic introduced to the market, such as Chapter 11 procedures that have led to a reorganization of the landscape. “The COVID-19 pandemic acted like a catalyst”, says Euroconsult’s Vishal Patil, who contributed to the report. “It triggered some consolidations, some mergers, and some acquisitions.”

Examples of such activity specific to this market include Gogo Commercial Aviation’s acquisition by Intelsat and leading broadband and entertainment service provider Anuvu, previously Global Eagle, which having filed for Chapter 11 in July 2020 has since exited with the aid of private funding. Broadband satellite operator OneWeb has also undergone a similar funding procedure.

The 2021 edition shows that around 9,000 aircraft across 115 airlines are currently equipped with in-flight connectivity (IFC) terminals — a reduction of 2.5% compared to the previous year. Over 80% of these aircraft were connected through satellite connectivity, with the remainder connected through Air-To-Ground. The rate of new installations was much lower this year as a result of regional lockdowns, leading to difficulty in accessing aircraft.

Unlike previous reports, this new edition considers regional aircraft and turboprops in the connectivity analysis, as well mobile-satellite service (MSS) solutions. An update on the introduction of non-geostationary orbit satellite (NGSO) systems is also provided, covering the likes of the SpaceX operated Starlink constellation, as well as Telesat and OneWeb, as well as the capacity availability for aviation first at Ku-band and then Ka-band.

Subscribers to the Premium Edition will be granted full access to an extensive database providing connectivity status by aircraft, service provider, frequency, and solution. This comprehensive database is updated quarterly, rather than annually. The 9th edition of Euroconsult’s Prospects for In-flight Entertainment & Connectivity is available for purchase now on their online Digital Platform, and is an essential tool for the whole value chain of the in-flight connectivity market — including, but not limited to, satellite operators and service providers, as well as system integrators, equipment manufacturers and airlines.

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