Emirates helps African customers stay connected

By mahlokoane percy ngwato

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Emirates airlines is helping its customers stay connected by providing free or very cheap Wi-Fi on 106 of its aircraft, with more being equipped all the time.

The airliner provides daily flights from Harare to Dubai and Lusaka, in addition to their extensive coverage of the African continent. In South Africa, the company enjoys a passenger market share of up to 40 percent.

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The service is already available on half of the company’s fleet, with every A380 having coverage and in-seat email, telephone and SMS services on every aircraft. Personal mobile phone services are available on 75 percent of Emirates’ fleet.

Two to three additional aircraft are having Wi-Fi connectivity installed every month. Having updated the service earlier in the year with a simpler sign-on process and updated software, the firm has experienced a 25 percent increase in uptake.

Emirates invests $20 million annually on installing connectivity systems which enable Wi-Fi on its planes. On its ultra-long-haul flights (ones that take over 14 hours), over a third of passengers use the available Wi-Fi services.

Currently, services are available on all A380 aircraft and 47 of Boeing 777 aircraft. The first 10MB of data is free on over two third of aircraft offering Wi-Fi services. If users exceed this amount, and on other aircraft in the fleet, users can access 500MB of data for $1. Since last October, Emirates has seen an uptake of over five fold.

Patrick Brannelly, Divisional Vice President for Customer Experience said, “Customers seek free Wi-Fi on-the-go, especially while travelling, and it is becoming the norm for most people who want to stay connected through online social networks and instant messaging. Emirates is subsidising or waiving the high cost of buying data to serve our passengers on routes across six continents.”

Based on data collected for 2014, roughly 650,000 users engaged with Emirates’ Wi-Fi and as of March 2015, over 350,000 people have already interacted with the service.

Brannelly also said, “We foresee that free Wi-Fi on board is the future standard for all our customers, something that will require no charge or limitations,”

Emirates’ mission to provide either free or low cost Wi-Fi connectivity across the entirety of thier fleet is certainly a noble endeavour and will allow passengers to connect with their friends, families, and loved ones. 

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