Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Sky high economics

Grous, Alexander (2017) Sky high economics. Sky High Economics (1). Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

Text - Published Version
Download (1MB) | Preview


The global airline industry is on the cusp of a connectivity revolution. Currently 3.8 billion passengers fly annually, with only around 25% of planes in the air offering them some form of onboard broadband. This is often of variable quality, with patchy coverage, slow speeds and low data limits. By 2035, it is likely that inflight connectivity will be ubiquitous across the world. Non-broadband-enabled ‘traditional’ sources such as seat upgrades, onboard duty free and baggage fees are currently worth around $60 billion to airlines. For the first time, this research study bridges the gap between current market estimates of traditional revenues and the forecasting of incremental revenue from broadbandenabled cabins. Using IATA passenger traffic data and forecasts of growth, including a near doubling of passenger numbers to 7.2 billion annually, this research study forecasts that broadband-enabled ancillary revenue will reach an estimated $30 billion for airlines by 2035. Overall, a total market of $130 billion of additional revenues will be created. As well as airlines, this market will include content providers, retail goods suppliers, hotel and car suppliers, airlines and advertisers. The four primary areas of broadband enabled ancillary revenue have been defined in the research are: • Broadband access • Advertising, encompassing interruptive advertising and pay-per-click • E-commerce and destination shopping • Streaming, including premium content The research looks at six key regions: Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, Africa, Middle East and Latin America, analysed using both primary and secondary research, drawing on available data of passenger numbers and of forecasted aircraft growth globally. By 2035, broadband-access revenue is forecast to remain the highest single source of new ancillary revenues, accounting for 53% of the total market, followed by e-commerce and destination shopping at 40% of the market, with advertising revenue accounting for 8% of the market, and premium content at around 2.5% of the market. Per passenger, this means an increase of 1,129% in broadband enabled ancillary revenue from the current $0.23 per passenger in 2018, to $2.82 in 2028, reaching $4 per passenger by 2035. With current traditional ancillary revenue for airlines of around $17 per passenger, the research study projects that broadband connectivity will add around 24% to ancillary revenues for airlines in real terms by 2035. Growth in broadband-enabled ancillary revenue will be driven by the introduction of new generation satellites. These address the key requirements sought by passengers that have been lacking to date in many cases, most importantly high bandwidth and continuous connectivity. Passenger surveys continue to confirm that these are integral components of quality, which remains the primary driver of broadband take-up, and that passengers are willing to pay more for high quality onboard connectivity. When combined with a well-developed ecosystem of content, products and services, this can spur the development of related ancillary revenues from both leisure and business passengers on Low Cost Carriers and Full Service Carriers. Globally, Low Cost Carriers (LCCs) are forecast to account for around $11 billion of revenues, and Full Service Carriers (FSC) around $19 billion. The capitalisation of opportunities presented by a connected cabin with high quality continuous coverage will depend on the degree that airlines are willing to engage with third party suppliers, retailers, destination companies, content providers and others. The research study forecasts that by 2035, from the estimated $30 billion airline share of the total broadbandenabled revenue of $130 billion, Asia Pacific has the highest figure at $10.3 billion, followed by Europe with $8.2 billion, North America with $7.6 billion, Latin America with $1.9 billion, Middle East at $1.3 billion and Africa with $0.58 billion. The opportunity for revenue growth from broadband enabled services is dependent on airlines commercialising passenger data to a much greater degree than occurs currently. Today, only 11% of existing airline schemes offer personalised rewards based on purchase history or location data. More loyal customers can generate a 23% premium in profitability and revenue to airlines. Airlines today have failed to fully develop the potential opportunities offered by passenger data. Airlines are in the driver’s seat for realising a massive opportunity. By bringing together right technological, retail, advertising and content partners, airlines will be able to offer passengers the services they are asking for, whilst improving the bottom line. With the number of passengers currently flying every day forecast to almost double by 2035 this is a ‘sky high’ multibillion dollar opportunity for the global airline industry.

Item Type: Monograph (Report)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © The London School of Economics and Political Science
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
T Technology > TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2018 08:48
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 13:28

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics