Budget airline ditches TVs for iPads

2012-06-06 12:07
Budget airline Scoot is offering iPads to long-haul travellers after ripping out aircraft entertainment systems weighing more than two tonnes to save fuel, according to ETN reports.

Singapore Airlines' new wide-body budget brand has touched down at Sydney Airport and will fly to Singapore daily from Sydney and, from next week, will run five flights a week from the Gold Coast on its Boeing 777 aircraft fitted with business and economy cabins. Scoot will also fly to Bangkok and Tianjin in China, followed by Tokyo and Taipei.

The tablets is helping the carrier cut 7 per cent off the weight of planes obtained from parent Singapore Airlines even after a 40 percent increase in seating, the chief executive officer Campbell Wilson said. The savings will help Scoot, which made its maiden flight to Sydney on Monday, cope with fuel prices that have jumped about 36 per cent in two years.
 
Cutting costs and finding new sources of revenue will be key for Singapore-based Scoot as it seeks to make a profit flying older aircraft than other low-cost carriers and selling tickets as cheap from about $179 (about R1 505) one-way from Sydney to Singapore. Singapore Air formed Scoot after budget operators led by Jetstar and AirAsia won 26 per cent of the city's air-travel market.

Fuel is "the number one worry" for any airline, as it usually accounts for at least 40 per cent of costs, Wilson said. Scoot will charge economy passengers about $17 (about R143) a trip to rent the tablets, which are loaded with movies, music, games and television shows.

The iPads are "a very smart move," said Corrine Png, JPMorgan Chase's Singapore-based head of regional transportation research. "If they can make the aircraft lighter, it does help improve fuel efficiency."

The budget carrier will loan the iPads free to passengers in its business-class seats. It also eventually intends letting users access content via a wireless system on planes. Qantas began trials of a similar product in December.

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