Panasonic Hits Back at IFE System Vulnerability Claims
Panasonic Avionics has rejected a report issued by cybersecurity firm IOActive, which claims that the company’s in-flight entertainment systems are vulnerable to hackers. According to IOActive, the vulnerabilities could allow hackers to “hijack” passengers’ seatback displays, access their credit card information and potentially use it as an entry point to the aircraft’s wider data network. The report alleges that the vulnerability is accessible through a hidden button in Panasonic’s seatback touch screens, using publicly available firmware files. In a statement responding to the claims, Panasonic called the allegations “misleading and inflammatory.”
Happi Flyers: JAL Offers Retro Jackets to Premium Passengers
Business- and first-class passengers on Japan Airlines’ London Heathrow–Tokyo Haneda route are being given a 1960s-style “JAL Original Happi Coat.” The garment features a white and navy blue Japanese motif along with the word “kotobuki,” meaning “best wishes,” on the back. Members of The Beatles were photographed wearing the coat when they disembarked from a JAL plane on a landmark visit to Japan in 1966. The Happi jackets are available to first-class passengers until December 31 and to business-class passengers on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Etihad Announces Job Cuts, Citing Weakened Global Economy
Etihad Airways has announced it will cut jobs as part of an effort to reduce costs and boost productivity, citing “a backdrop of weakened global economic conditions.” The Gulf carrier hasn’t said how many jobs will go, but has described the move as “a measured reduction of head count in some parts of the business.” The announcement comes amid decreasing passenger numbers at Etihad’s Abu Dhabi base and huge losses announced by Emirates. Writing for Forbes, Dominic Dudley suggests that Qantas’ announcement that it would fly directly between London and Perth could be an ominous sign for Gulf carriers, whose business models are based on acting as connecting hubs between multiple points in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.
AVIC Buys Thompson Aero Seating for Undisclosed Sum
The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has acquired Thompson Aero Seating for an undisclosed sum. The Northern Ireland-based aircraft seat manufacturer, which counts Qantas, American Airlines, JetBlue, SWISS, Air Canada and Aer Lingus among its customers, is best known for its Vantage business-class seat. “Being underpinned by a strong industrial backer in AVIC will serve to consolidate our continued growth in Northern Ireland. The company expects to expand its current capacity to fulfill its fast-growing order book,” said a Thompson Aero spokesperson. The deal follows AVIC’s acquisition of England-based aircraft interiors company AIM Altitude last March.
British Airways to Charge for Cups of Hot Water
British Airways will begin charging for cups of hot water when its new Buy on Board short-haul service begins in January. The airline said passengers who request a teacup will be charged “at the retail price regardless of whether a tea bag is required.” Once the new catering service comes into operation, all food and drink, including soft drinks and hot beverages, will be charged. BA CEO Alex Cruz defended the move by saying, “We haven’t reached this decision because we were going to take a huge amount of cost out of the business. The decision has been taken because of choice and quality.”
Bad News Travels Fast on Live In-Flight Television Channels
In-flight news viewership went up in unprecedented numbers this year, says David Bruner, vice-president of Global Communications Services for Panasonic Avionics, whose eXTV global television service delivers live programming to 11 airlines. From May to June, news events such as the Brexit vote, the Orlando nightclub shooting and the terrorist attack at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul contributed to a doubling in the number of viewers, compared with the preceding period. Passengers also dwelled on news channels longer. “This was so different from last year, where we’d see a lot of people pop into the news channels, stay 20 minutes or even less, and then go watch sports,” says Bruner. “What we’re seeing now is sustained news viewing.”