AirAsia X CEO Ben Ismail and Leo Mondale, president, Inmarsat Aviation, at AIX 2017. Image: Maxim Sergienko

AirAsia X CEO Ben Ismail and Leo Mondale, president, Inmarsat Aviation, at AIX 2017. Image: Maxim Sergienko

APEX Insight: AirAsia X announced that it will upgrade in-flight connectivity for its roKKi in-flight entertainment system using Inmarsat’s GX Aviation, with plans, not only to boost Internet speeds and provide seamless streaming, but to increase passenger spend on board.

AirAsia X CEO Ben Ismail was at Aicraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg this afternoon to announce it would be upgrading its roKKi in-flight entertainment platform with Inmarsat’s GX aviation. The upgrade will bring faster Internet speeds for browsing, video streaming and social media.

“Today marks a significant milestone for AirAsia and roKKi. This next-generation connectivity solution represents a major infrastructure upgrade that signals a long-term commitment in transforming AirAsia into a truly digital airline,” Ismail said.

“This next-generation connectivity solution represents a major infrastructure upgrade that signals a long-term commitment in transforming AirAsia into a truly digital airline.” — AirAsia X CEO Ben Ismail

“AirAsia is a really important win for us,” says Frederik van Essen, SVP, Strategy and Business Development, Inmarsat Aviation. “AirAsia has the attitude that we share of making things happen, not accepting the status quo. Once they take the decision to move, they want to move quickly.”

The memorandum of understanding with Inmarsat covers AirAsia X’s A330 and A320 fleets, subject to final contracts. Installations begin later this year with GX Aviation connectivity expected to go live first on the A330s in 2018.

“Connectivity is something desired by all passengers.” — Frederik van Essen, Inmarsat Aviation

Aside from upgraded connectivity, Ismail says GX Aviation will help to drive ancillary revenues on board. “Currently our ancillary spend is about $60 US [per passenger], and I think with this coming in, it’s going to drive that sales up to $80 or $90,” Ismail explained, adding that the average passenger flies four to eight hours on an AirAsia flight.

“In Asia, showing this attitude with a low-cost carrier demonstrates that these are not only systems for premium carriers that want to offer this to first- or business-class passengers. Connectivity is something desired by all passengers,” van Essen said.

“GX is different from the other offers out there. We own and operate satellites. We are seeing the fruits of that as we roll out the service next year,” said Leo Mondale, president, Inmarsat Aviation.

Caroline is managing editor at APEX Media.