AirFi, the world’s smallest and portable in-flight entertainment (IFE) system, is set to bring entertainment to short-haul flights while opening up new revenue opportunities for airlines.
Seat-embedded IFE systems, loaded with movies, shows and games, help long-haul flights go by faster. For mid-haul flights, many airlines are opting for bring your own device (BYOD) wireless entertainment systems instead, some including LiveTV, which can be enjoyed through a dedicated app. But short-haul flights haven’t been considered worth equipping, precisely because of their short duration.
The small white AirFi box, introduced by company Dutch company MI Airline’s last March, creates a private network on any aircraft it’s onboard and doesn’t require special wiring or set up. It’s powered off the plane where the content is also updated, and can be pulled from one aircraft onto another as needed.
The company signed an agreement with Western Outdoor Interactive (WOI) last year which helped expand its entertainment portfolio to include 400 different magazines, newspapers, interactive games, and other entertainment and concierge services including TripAdvisor offline with the option to tailor branded and custom content, such as highlights of points of interest at destinations.
Estonian Airlines has adopted this new system for its entire fleet of CRJ900 NextGen and Embraer 170 aircraft.
Estonian Air CCO Indrek Randveer says the airline selected the AirFi IFE system to give its passengers at 30,000 feet the same “e-lifestyle experience” they enjoy on the ground.
“In first phase of rollout, we want to offer our passengers an opportunity to use this onboard solution to read Estonian (and in the future also international) magazines, spend time playing entertaining games or chat with family members and friends who are also onboard,” says Randveer.
Job Heimerikx CEO of AirFi points out the revenue opportunities of branded content: “With AirFi, Estonian Air has tapped into a wide realm of potential for ancillary offerings and entertainment.”
The new AirFi service on Estonian Airlines is free to passengers, can be accessed on laptops and portable electronic devices, and there’s no need to download an app before boarding. The content is accessed by logging into AirFi’s portal. Passengers traveling together can even stay in touch with each other on the plane with instant onboard messaging.
European low-cost carrier Transavia, part of the Air France/KLM airline group, has adopted MI Airline’s ’Connected Crew’ tablet solution, which helps support crew keep up with daily tasks and is also considering a deployment of AirFi for its fleet. KLM is a co-founder of MI Airline along with the Mainport Innovation Fund, Schiphol Group, Delft University of Technology and Rabobank.