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Honeywell Middle East Passenger Survey Shows Strong Demand For Wi-Fi To Improve In-Flight Productivity

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A new survey released by Honeywell Aerospace (NYSE: HON) reveals that Middle East travelers expect to stay connected at 30,000 feet with fast and consistent in-flight wireless connectivity. Honeywell found that passengers are predominantly looking to stay connected when flying long-haul to stay productive and in contact with the ground below, such as by checking email and accessing social media sites to reading the latest news. The research conducted online surveyed more than 1,300 adults across the Middle East[1] and revealed that passengers' online requirements are similar in the sky to that at home, indicating a shift toward always being connected.

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Importance of Being Connected

The Middle East, especially those countries with hub international airports such as United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is quickly becoming a growing center for regional and international travel and has led the way in the early adoption of existing technologies for connectivity. Although Wi-Fi is still a flourishing amenity on many flights, the survey also revealed that 76 percent of respondents view access to in-flight connectivity as a vital or important service for business or leisure use. Middle East passengers are choosing to spend their in-flight hours reading business and leisure email, accessing social networks and watching television rather than sleeping.

More than half of respondents want to access Wi-Fi for business reasons, and the high number of overall respondents rating Wi-Fi as important or vital indicates that passengers may select an airline based on the availability of in-flight connectivity. The survey results point toward the continued emergence of the Middle East as a destination to conduct business. The interest in such a service also suggests that passengers are focused on making time spent in the cabin as productive and efficient as possible.

"The Middle East aerospace industry is experiencing rapid expansion, and technology, and innovation is vital for meeting passenger demand. With people wanting to stay online when flying and with faster connectivity on personal devices, we are seeing a growing trend toward the cabin always being connected," said Aileen McDowall, vice president, Air Transport and Regional EMEAI, Honeywell Aerospace. "Our survey results show that passengers may take the availability of in-flight broadband into account when selecting an airline, and indicate that cabin connectivity could be a major service differentiator and value-added revenue stream for the region's airlines in the coming years."

Staying Productive and Connected

Whether travelling for business or pleasure, passengers want to stay connected with the ground. In fact many passengers are willing to forego certain in-flight comforts in exchange for on-board Wi-Fi so they can participate in such activities. Survey results conclude that:
  • There are fewer passengers in the UAE who have accessed Wi-Fi in-flight for both business and pleasure (27 percent) compared with Saudi Arabia (53 percent). A higher percentage (44 percent) among UAE respondents use the Internet for leisure only.
  • For respondents who indicated in-flight connectivity was vital or important, approximately two in three use Wi-Fi to communicate with family and friends or to work, and one in four access entertainment online.
  • Passengers are willing to forego traditional amenities for access to in-flight Wi-Fi. More than a third of respondents (35 percent) would consider giving up a preferred window or aisle seat, and nearly a quarter (22 percent) say they would forfeit an in-flight beverage service.

Value of Connectivity

In-flight wireless connectivity is in demand, and passengers are willing to make tradeoffs to use it, especially for business purposes. The following survey results indicate the value passengers place on staying connected to do business while making longer trips either for business or leisure:
  • More survey respondents (45 percent) are likely to pay for Wi-Fi to take care of business tasks while in flight; however, there is a resistance to paying for the service to handle personal tasks.
  • Overall, fewer would consider purchasing Wi-Fi for short-haul flights (47 percent) within the Middle East region compared with purchasing such services for long-haul flights (70 percent) outside the Middle East.

The survey mirrors similar results revealed by Honeywell in September 2013 in a global survey indicating a shift among passengers in the definition of comfort while flying. The survey of more than 3,000 respondents in United States, United Kingdom and Singapore echoed the growing demand for connectivity and, crucially, a requirement for global, transoceanic, fast and consistent in-flight wireless connectivity.

Going Wireless With Honeywell

Honeywell's extensive line of satellite and connectivity products ranges from basic voice over data communications in the cockpit to high-speed connectivity with unlimited potential applications in the cockpit and cabin. Through product development and recent acquisition and partnerships, Honeywell plans to deliver global high-speed in-flight connectivity to passengers by enabling airlines and airplane manufacturers to access Inmarsat's Global Xpress Ka-band satellite constellation. By early 2015, passengers can expect to shop, access email, connect with friends on social networking sites, and enjoy live streaming for entertainment and more, and will be able to do so with a consistent connection across oceans and regions.

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