Offering Apple iPad’s as rentable inflight entertainment devices has helped boost airBaltic’s average ancillary revenue per passenger by 20 per cent to approximately EUR15, airBaltic VP for communications Janis Vanags revealed last week at the Aircraft Interiors Conference in Hamburg.
Another source of pride is the fact that the carrier last June was the first to bring the iPad to the IFE market, beating Jetstar, which is generally attributed with the title. But airBaltic’s leading position raises a set of questions. The Jetstar iPad was launched last November right after Apple released its iOS4 operating system. The timing was no coincidence: iOS4 was the first time Apple included in the software an enterprise license, which legally allows the iPad to be used for commercial purposes.
Vanags says that he is not familiar with contract particulars as airBaltic rents the iPads from catering company LSG under a profit-share agreement. “We don’t deal directly with Apple,” he says.
AirBaltic offers iPads on flights over 2.5 hours and typically stocks 10 to 15 of the tablets on flights, with the exact amount varying between aircraft type. Business-class passengers can use the iPad-based IFE devices for free, meaning that airBaltic rents about 70% of stocked iPads to passengers.
Jetstar has encased its iPads in protective cases that include an RFID chip for security, but Vanags says airBaltic has no such extensive security protocols.
Faster ground support has also aided airBaltic in growing ancillary revenue with the iPads; the carrier’s previous portable IFE system was used for 30,000 hours but required 2,000 hours of downtime for maintenance. Like at Jetstar, iPad uptake rates are higher than with their previous portable solution. Vanags says public high-profile items “stimulate buying behaviour”.