Australian business travellers keen on in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity

Passengers with access to in-flight Wi-Fi via Panasonic Avionics.
Passengers watching live TV via Panasonic Avionics.

New research in Australia has found that the majority of business air travellers now feel they need to be contactable via in-flight Wi-Fi at all times for work.

The report from Roy Morgan Research showed a total of 2.3 million Australians travelled by air for business purposes in 2016.

At 11 percent of the population (14+), this is unchanged compared with 2012.

What has changed since then are the devices, attitudes and internet usage habits of business air travellers, which indicate an increasing desire to be able to stay connected via in-flight Wi-Fi during the flight.

Smartphones have become nearly ubiquitous. In the 12 months to September 2016, 92 percent of business travellers used a smartphone, up from 68 percent in the 12 months to September 2012.

It doesn’t take long for a convenience to become a compulsion. The report found 80 percent of Australian business air travellers are now “interested in being able to access the internet wherever I am” (up from 73 percent in 2012)—and a majority 56 percent say they “need to contactable at all times for work” (up from 48 percent).

However, inflight Wi-Fi internet connectivity is not all about work, even for business travellers. Last year 60 percent streamed entertainment content in an average four weeks, including music or radio, video, television or movies (up from 43 percent in 2012).

37 percent of business air travellers accessed a wireless hotspot in a three-month period in 2016 (up from 24 percent) and 31 percent access their work network remotely in an average four weeks (up from 28 percent).

Michele Levine, CEO Roy Morgan Research, said: “Australian airlines have so far lagged behind others in the US, Asia, Europe and the Middle East in offering in-flight Wi-Fi internet access to their customers.

“Business travellers will be the primary target market for Qantas as it rolls out internet connectivity across its fleet. Compared with leisure travellers, people flying for business profess a much greater need to stay connected, wherever and whenever.

“Although the majority of business travellers currently say they need to be contactable at all times for work, many perhaps enjoy the enforced downtime on flights—or at least the chance to do some work without facing a stream of incoming emails.

“Roy Morgan’s research shows that 10 percent of the 2.3 million annual business air travellers take a domestic work flight at least once a month, and six percent make at least three work-related international flights a year.

“Qantas now needs to understand and target these high-volume business flyers, and pitch its new in-flight Wi-Fi as a clear point of difference from other domestic airlines and, depending on the outcome of its on-going trials, how the NBN satellite network’s reliability and speed compares with the equivalent services offered by its major international competitors.”

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