Lufthansa has long been one of the pioneers in bringing in-flight connectivity (IFC) services to passengers. It was one of the first, if not the first to do so.
However, as one of the pioneers in this area, the airline is definitely not looking to rest on its laurels. In 2018, the Lufthansa’s main aim is to connect the A320 family, depending on aircraft availability. This will also apply to Austrian Airlines and Eurowings. “Currently, FlyNet (our IFC services) is available on 27 aircraft within the A320 family fleet,” Thomas Laxar, head of in-flight entertainment and connectivity content and portal at Lufthansa Group Hub Airlines, told GCA Link. “Every day, we are continuing to equip more and more aircraft with internet on board, and by the end of 2018, all of our A320 family aircraft will offer passengers onboard connectivity.”
One of the big challenges for any airline when bringing these services to passengers is which business model to use and whether it should offer the services for free. On the subject, Laxar said, “In our partnership with our connectivity partners, we agreed to set up committees that regularly discuss points such as user feedback, performance and new technologies as well as market development. All parties are committed to providing a product that is always competitive also with regards to performance and price. The question of whether we will continue to charge for the internet service in the long term will be answered by the committees in due course. In any case, we will ensure that we provide a product which corresponds to the market demand.”
Today, Lufthansa packages on its short-haul fleet include its FlyNet Message service limited to 150 kbps in terms of speed, FlyNet Surf up to 600 kbps and FlyNet Stream up to 15 mbps. The increasing demand of bandwidth requires continuous investment in new connectivity technologies, said Floris Reimbold, head of in-flight entertainment and connectivity technology at Lufthansa Group Hub Airlines.
The airline is working on a number of different initiatives to bring better services to passengers. These include offering a free-of-charge FlyNet portal with a number of services to engage passengers. For example, Lufthansa offers destination tips, such as the top ten sights to visit, restaurants, shopping and nightlife recommendations.
It works on giving up-to-date information on things such as flight status, rebooking and check-in status. Lufthansa also provides live TV channels on long-haul routes and partners with digital content and service providers to improve its offers. It aims to create a seamless travel experience by offering a similar service across both its short-haul and long-haul fleets. One of the other ways in which the airline is looking to improve its service is to create better payment options for customers, including the use of PayPal, roaming partners, as well as traditional credit card options. The key as always with these services is to offer a reliable broadband connection, and this will continue to be key for Lufthansa.
Laxar said that Lufthansa’s passenger’s desire to stay connected at all times is “steadily increasing,” but that providing a connectivity experience “just like home” on board while maybe sounding easy is a real challenge for the whole industry. “In line with any other industries, digitalization and customer centrism is the key to success. “Some airlines are on a good way, but even they have to be careful in view of the speed of change in our digital world,” added Reimbold.
IFC services are a vital part of Lufthansa’s roadmap going forward. “The market for IFC services will continue to gain importance as in-flight connectivity is one of the key drivers of digitalization in the aviation industry. Lufthansa is committed to engaging in the development of next-generation technology to further strengthen our innovative and leading role in this field,” said Reimbold.