Can a massive airline deliver disruption in the inflight entertainment world? Delta Air Lines hopes the answer is yes as its Delta Flight Products (DFP) group formally launches its wireless IFE solution. Can a massive airline deliver disruption in the inflight entertainment world? Delta Air Lines hopes the answer is yes as its Delta Flight Products (DFP) group formally launches its wireless IFE solution. That's bad news for pretty much every other vendor in the inflight entertainment market today.
Uncertainty around the future of Avianca Brasil is growing as the company faces financial turmoil. Citing an inability to strike a "friendly agreement" for renegotiating aircraft leases the carrier sought protection under Brazilian bankruptcy laws this week. The move comes on the heels of lessors seeking the return of 11 aircraft for non-payment. The potential loss of aircraft is bad for the company and for its passengers, of course. It could also see a long-stalled inflight connectivity deployment finally terminated.
It was supposed to be a massive shift of market share in the inflight connectivity world. Former Panasonic Avionics executive David Bruner claimed significant numbers of Southwest Airlines aircraft would see the Global Eagle kit uninstalled, replaced with PAC's solution, along with the ongoing line-fit deliveries. Instead Global Eagle is replacing PAC on the small number of 737s that were installed. And that might not even be the largest challenge Panasonic faces today.
In the couple months since PAC's partnership announcement with Inmarsat the company has pushed a two pronged approach to its future business. One one side sits the core competencies of its inflight entertainment business. On the other, driven by many of the new faces in the company's leadership, comes a shift towards a services operation. Both sides face challenges.
Air-to-ground connectivity networks do not work over water. The word ground is right there in the name. Not ocean, not sea. Ground. And yet, Deutsche Telekom has its eyes on changing the rules of ATG networking, bringing the technology to some overwater flights to further support Inmarsat's European Aviation Network (EAN) operations. The idea might not be as crazy as it sounds.
Last Friday's news of a new wireless IFE offering on Delta's A330neo fleet suggested a high likelihood of the Gogo Vision Touch product expanding beyond the carrier's A220 fleet. New - and unconfirmed - details now suggest another, somewhat unexpected vendor in play.
A pair of earnings reports last week left open questions about just how many aircraft are generating how much inflight connectivity revenue. Both Gogo and Inmarsat clarified those positions, providing better context around their numbers.
Global Eagle posted strong revenue numbers in Q3, with its content and aviation connectivity segments showing particular strength. The company also announced a couple "take away" deals that see it grabbing business from competitors. Those moves come at a cost, however, especially on the connectivity side. The increased revenue from these deals over the long term is welcome but a short term cash crunch could be bad for business.
Inmarsat reported a jump in inflight connectivity revenue in Q3, continuing the activation and growth of its GX Aviation solution on aircraft around the world. The numbers suggest additional frames are finally generating revenue, a welcome advance for the company after the first such income was generated just last quarter. Inmarsat also disclosed that at least two recently announced customer wins remain as unsigned, lending credibility to claims that the deals are not yet final. The company also outlined additional details on how it expects the Panasonic partnership to grow.
Two stories should deliver a net boost for Global Eagle headed into Thursday's earnings release. They are not both good news (and one remains unconfirmed), but the positive outweighs the negative significantly.
Gogo revised its expectations for 2020 and beyond, announcing updated goals as the company continues its drive towards profitability. Alas, details on those revised targets will not be shared with investors. CEO Oakleigh Thorne shared that the new math takes into account "more realistic expectations" of satellite costs and the shift to the airline-directed model. Assuming the new numbers are part of the Q3 '18 numbers they should help the company significantly, though there are indications some parts of the operation could revert to higher costs. The inability for global revenue to keep pace with growth in North America is also concerning given the company's current backlog.