According to research, there will be more than 15,000 commercial aircraft equipped with a mix of Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity equipment by 2021, up from approximately 3,194 at the end of 2012.
That equates to an average of 1,200 newly equipped or retrofitted aircraft per year. It was also revealed that 12% of airlines polled already have their fleets equipped with Wi-Fi; 41% plan to be equipped within two years; 35% plan to be equipped in 2-5 years, with the remaining 12% responding that it will be more than five years.
Encouragingly, airlines are beginning to embrace the self-service model pioneered by retailers. Already, airport terminals are lined with vending machines selling everything from liquor to electronic equipment to duty free goods. Meanwhile, advanced inflight entertainment displays (IFE), inflight Wi-Fi (a feature on about 38% of all US flights), tablet-equipped flight attendants and point-of-sale payment devices are all working to give passengers a seamless retailing experience.
Gogo, a US company, has contracts with American, Delta, JAL, and other major airlines. It controls as much as 85% of the more than 2,000 planes equipped to provide wifi in the US.