Passengers opt to keep in touch

Business travellers are leading the demand for inflight communications, according to the results of a global survey of airline passengers released today. More than any other group, people travelling for business purposes want to be able to use their mobile devices during flights.

The research, commissioned by OnAir, shows that those travellers who are on business trips in particular want to use their smartphones, like BlackBerry® and Treo®, to send and receive emails and to be reachable by phone during flights, effectively making time spent on board as useful as any other part of their working day. 

The research demonstrates that among travellers flying for business reasons:
-      over 90% carry a mobile phone when travelling

-      up to 40% carry a BlackBerry or Treo when travelling

-      65% of BlackBerry and Treo users would turn their devices on during flights


-      94% would take calls and check emails during flights

-      82% would make calls and send emails during flights

Mobile OnAir, which will allow passengers to use their mobile phones, BlackBerrys and Treos during flights, will be installed on Air France flights from early 2007 and on Ryanair, bmi and TAP flights from the middle of 2007.

George Cooper, CEO of OnAir, said, “It is very clear that air passengers want to remain in touch during flights, and we have the solution to make that happen. Airlines have an immediate opportunity to provide a new and innovative service for their passengers, and in particular their valuable business passengers.”

A breakdown of the survey results also shows that, although business travellers are more likely to use their mobile devices than leisure passengers, a very significant proportion of leisure passengers also want to remain in touch during flights.
The highest volume activity will be SMS messaging: 33% more texts will be sent and received than any other application, including voice calls.
The survey further highlighted cultural differences. For example, the mobile phone appears to be used as both a business and a social tool by French travellers, but more often used by British travellers as just a business tool. Based on the current number of missed calls per flight:

-      passengers departing from France receive 82% more calls than passengers departing from the UK

-      leisure passengers departing from France receive almost as many calls as their business counterparts

-      business travellers departing from the UK receive two and half times as many calls as leisure travellers

In addition, Spanish travellers stand out in Europe as wanting to remain in touch, with 67% saying they would turn their phone on during flights.

Eighty per cent of all respondents, whether they would use their mobile devices during flights or not, had a positive perception of the concept:

-      38% perceived it as a service that allows people to stay in touch during flights and profitably use time on board

-      42% stated that it would be a bonus to be able to exchange text messages and emails, although voice calls would have to be managed