Airlines Poised to Invest in SMS and Email in the Sky

Airlines worldwide are poised to invest in on-board short messaging service (SMS) and email services according to the results of the latest annual Airline IT Trends Survey - conducted by SITA and Airline Business magazine.
The survey shows that by the end of this year 25 per cent of airlines will offer e-mail and 22 per cent SMS services to passengers onboard their aircraft. By 2006 these figures rise to 46 per cent offering email and 45 per cent offering SMS services. This is despite the impact of the ‘perfect storm’aroused provoked by the combination ofcaused by the SARS virus, war in Iraq, an economic downturn and the impact of September 11th 2001.

The World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) recently issued a report that more than 4,980 aircraft, about 43% of the world’s commercial fleet, are flying with some form of In-Flight Entertainment (IFE), and approximately 3,300 aircraft have satellite communications ability.

Peter Buecking, SITA President, said: “These technologies offer opportunities to further differentiate cabin services and we expect to see a dramatic uptake in the next few years as airlines upgrade their IFE systems. The traditional leadership of carriers in the Asia-Pacific region with IFE technologies is continuing in these new areas of cabin service. The survey shows that over a quarter of the Asia-Pacific carriers responding were already operating trials with SMS and email and this rises to over half in the next two years.”

The Airline IT Trends Survey was conducted by NSM research in the first half of 2003 and 107 responses were received from the Top 200 carriers. Commissioned by SITA and Airline Business, the survey covers the essential strategic management issues of investment, drivers, obstacles, alliances and outsourcing, the adoption of open systems/IP technologies, and rise of business-to-consumer and e-business services. A detailed report and listing of the aggregate data is available to purchase on CD-Rom for US$245. For further information visit or