APEX in Profile: Dodo Su

Image: Dodo Su

Dodo Su
Product Manager
China Southern Airlines

Dodo is currently taking charge of in-flight entertainment and connectivity software definition at China Southern Airlines, where she has also worked on market analysis, tourism product design and cabin configuration. She holds a master’s degree in international accounting and consultancy from the University of Reading, UK, and a bachelor’s in accounting from Jilin University, China.

Fast Facts:
Location: CAN
Now reading: Traditional Chinese medicine books
Years in the industry: 8
Favorite airport: Singapore Changi
Brand of suitcase: Samsonite

What’s the one item you can’t travel without?
My mobile phone, especially in China where you can just scan a QR code using WeChat to purchase an apple from a grocery store, unlock a shared bike or place an order and pay the bill in a restaurant. A lot of what a modern Chinese citizen does daily is conducted in just one application. By Q3 of 2017, WeChat had 980 million monthly active users, closing in on one billion. Forget about your wallet; you will only need to bring your mobile.

China Southern began a trial period for Wi-Fi on select domestic and international routes in May 2016. Can you tell us a little more about that?
The trial period was actually rather short, and we have been formally providing the Wi-Fi service for over a year now, with no plans to terminate the service. About 15 Airbus A330-300 aircraft are equipped with the Panasonic eXConnect system, offering the service on routes from Guangzhou to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Beijing; from Beijing to Amsterdam; and on other routes operated with the aircraft. By 2022, we will receive over 50 new wide-body aircraft with linefit connectivity systems.

By October 2017, we had provided the Internet service on more than 6,000 flights, to more than 100,000 users. For long-haul flights, especially in the daytime, the demand for connection is rather high, with 40 users on average. For short-haul flights (less than two hours), there are just a few users. However, with the ban on in-flight smartphone usage now lifted, the demand for Internet connection is expected to experience explosive growth.

What sort of business models are you exploring for Wi-Fi service?
Currently, our priority is to provide passengers with a better experience with this complimentary service. We are at the very beginning of exploring business models, and it is hard to tell whether it is better to charge passengers for the usage of traffic or charge business partners, or let the passengers and business partners share the service costs. Establishing a suitable business operation model will be our main focus in the next few years.

The prospect of a prosperous market is so obvious and the entry thresholds are relatively lower than with traditional IFE. Therefore, more and more players want a piece of the pie, and the market is becoming more competitive than ever before. Sufficient competition will push the suppliers to continuously and efficiently improve their products and services, and the costs will tend to be reasonable as well. Airlines will have more freedom to select the best products and services, so they can provide the highest-quality experience to their passengers.

“APEX in Profile: Dodo Su” was originally published in the 8.1 February/March issue of APEX Experience magazine.