Royal Air Maroc will bring inflight entertainment to its smallest aircraft this month. The company will trial a streaming solution from AirGo.Aero on one of its Embraer E190 planes. This also represents the first installation for AirGo, bringing another streaming IFE vendor into what is already a crowded market.
The trial program, slated to run at least two months, will deliver complimentary content from Fox non-theatrical and Euronews, among other sources. It will also enable a broad range of shopping opportunities for the carrier, powered by AirGo’s infrastructure.
As part of its focus on delivering a revenue-positive solution to airlines AirGo is sourcing destination-specific deals for its airline partners to sell to passengers. These offerings are in addition to on-board ancillary sales such as food, duty free and even seat upgrades during the flight.
A lightweight online model
AirGo also aims to leverage the data it collects on passengers using the system to help with increasing revenue and delivering a more personalized experience to the traveler. While this can be done in a traditional offline mode, the company has developed a connected version of the solution to further improve the performance. With a SwiftBroadband-based satellite connection the AirGo server can identify and validate a passenger based on logging in with their PNR once on board. Given that small detail the system can optimize the merchant offerings, entertainment selections and advertising. The networked model can also perform real-time credit card transaction processing, reducing fraud for onboard sales.
AirGo co-founder Reda van Eeuwijk notes, “We have a limited usage regarding this bandwidth. We only use it for checking the credit card for payment onboard and to deliver personalization via the offline box. The satellite is used like a brain to control the content from the offline box.” The online version of the AirGo system is not active with the Royal Air Maroc trial run; the system will operate in offline mode for now.
This is not the first effort to deliver an improved inflight experience through a lightweight satellite connection. Faroese carrier Atlantic Airways announced plans to launch the AirFi LEO product a year ago, though that remains on an uncertain timeline. Lufthansa Systems also had a lightweight connection plan in the works but scrapped the efforts earlier this year. Unique to that plan was its intent to deliver end-user connectivity rather than just back-end services across the very thin pipe. At the time of killing the project Jan-Peter Gaense, Head of Passenger Experience Products & Solutions, Lufthansa Systems noted “[I]t could be cool for payments; for online payment it makes a lot of sense. And maybe for some other back-end transactions.” This back-end processing is precisely what AirGo aims to enable with the connected version of its solution.
Growing the AirGo brand
Starting with just the one plane may not seem like much but for the inflight entertainment world it represents a significant step forward. And AirGo has big plans to follow up on this move. Van Eeuwijk notes that a second trial “with a well-known airline” is expected to be announced imminently. He also highlights the company’s strong relationships in the Middle East region, suggesting that “SaudiGulf, Saudia, flynas, Gulf Air, Qatar Airways, Etihad are following the project and we are constantly in contact with them.”