Broadband in the sky will be a $130 billion market by 2035

Via Inmarsat Media Centre

Sep 26, 2017

26 September 2017: Inflight broadband has the potential to create a $130 billion global market within the next 20 years, resulting in $30 billion of additional revenue for airlines by 2035.

This is the conclusion of a first-of-its-kind research study, Sky High Economics : Quantifying the commercial opportunities of passenger connectivity for the global airline industry , carried out by London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in association with Inmarsat.

Based on current International Air Transport Association (IATA) data and industry sources, Sky High Economics has developed an independent forecasting model.

Revenue streams

It predicts broadband enabled ancillary revenues for airlines will come from four main revenue streams:

  • Broadband access charges – providing connectivity to passengers inflight
  • E-commerce and destination shopping – making purchases on-board aircraft with expanded product ranges and real-time offers
  • Advertising – pay-per-click, impressions, sponsorship deals with advertisers
  • Premium content – providing live content, on demand video and bundled W-IFEC access

Forecasted airline share of the $30 billion broadband enabled ancillary revenue opportunity

Broadband access E-commerce Advertising Premium content Total
2018 $822 million $36 million $26 million $39 million $1 billion
2028 $9 billion $3 billion $2.9 billion $731 million $15 billion
2035 $15.9 billion $6.8 billion $6 billion $1.4 billion $30 billion

Currently, airlines receive an additional $17 per passenger from ‘traditional’ ancillary services such as duty free purchases and inflight retail, food and drink sales. Broadband-enabled connected ancillary revenues will add an extra $4 by 2035.At present, only 53 out of an estimated 5,000 airlines worldwide offer inflight broadband connectivity.[i] On the back of strong passenger demand, inflight internet will be ubiquitous on commercial aircraft by 2035.

E-commerce platforms

Full service carriers look set to claim the lion’s share of airline revenues (63%), generating $19 billion by 2035. Capitalising on longer flight times, additional revenue will come from the ability to maximise e-commerce platforms and striking deals with content providers to offer premium packages.

The Sky High Economics study predicts low cost carriers will generate $11 billion by 2035, the bulk of which will come from selling connectivity to passengers.

The research also identified the greatest opportunity for broadband-enabled ancillary services is in Asia Pacific. Driven by passenger growth and availability of services, airlines in Asia Pacific will benefit from $10.3 billion of ancillary revenues by 2035, followed by Europe ($8.2 billion) and North America ($7.6 billion).

New players

Dr Alexander Grous (B. Ec, MBA, M.Com, MA, PhD.), Department of Media and Communications, LSE and author of Sky High Economics said:

“The opportunity available to airlines is enormous. The Sky High Economics study predicts the creation of a $130 billion market within the next two decades. Globally, if airlines can provide a reliable broadband connection, it will be the catalyst for rolling out more creative advertising, content and e-commerce packages.

“We will see innovative deals struck, partnerships formed and business models fundamentally changed for new players to lay claim to the $100 billion opportunity away from airlines. Broadband-enabled ancillary revenue has the potential to shape a whole new market and it’s something airlines need to be planning for right now.”

Rupert Pearce, Chief Executive Officer, Inmarsat, said:

“Inflight connectivity is no longer a luxury for passengers, it’s an expectation. The analysis from LSE shows there is huge scope for airlines to unlock entirely new revenue streams, while also helping to improve the passenger experience.

Largest organisations

“What’s more, airlines will become the gatekeepers to a $130 billion market. If they can install a high quality inflight broadband connection, we will see them open the doors to some of the world’s largest organisations.”

Inmarsat is transforming the global aviation industry by bringing complete connectivity to every aircraft and flight path and is the only aviation broadband provider capable of connecting the complete aircraft from cabin to cockpit.

A copy of Sky High Economics can be found here:

(The full length version can be found here:


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