In-Flight Wi-Fi To Come At A Hefty Cost, Airlines Likely To Charge 30 Percent Of Fare

| January 23 , 2018 , 15:34 IST

To the relief of passengers, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had earlier announced that in-flight voice and data connectivity would be allowed in flights, however, the facilities are likely to come with a hefty price tag, possibly 20-30 percent of the airfare.

Airlines are considering options to offer internet facilities for travellers on domestic and international routes, likely as value-added services for business class due to the costs involved.

In order to provide connectivity, either the aircraft would need to connect to mobile towers on the ground which would result in significantly slower speeds, or connect with satellites which would increase the speed but also increase costs. To provide the in-flight connectivity, airlines would have to pay considerable sums to service providers such as Inmarsat and others.

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According to officials, the charges for in-flight net connectivity would be in the range of Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 for 30 minutes to an hour, based on international standards and charges levied by service providers for satellite slots. Considering that advance booking fares for domestic routes range from Rs 1,200 to Rs 2,500, the in-flight connectivity may not prove cost-effective for passengers in the domestic sector.

To combat the high-costs, some international airlines such as Lufthansa, Emirates, British Airways and Delta offer WiFi for low-bandwidth messenger services such as WhatsApp free of cost.

Air Passengers Association of India national president D Sudhakara Reddy said, "The in-flight data connectivity may be useful on longhaul flights. Going by the international experience of passengers, it may not be viable for low-cost carriers."