Gulf Air launches live TV on aircraft in world first

Passengers can watch live TV, tweet and receive text messages with 'Sky Hub' system
Gulf Air launches live TV on aircraft in world first
The airline said the Sky Hub system cost millions of dinars
By Bloomberg
Wed 12 Oct 2011 03:14 PM

Gulf Air, Bahrain’s state-owned carrier, took delivery of the world’s first aircraft to be fitted with communications and entertainment technology that allow passengers to watch live TV, receive text messages and access social-media networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

The airline’s 'Sky Hub' system cost millions of dinars, said Samer Majali, Gulf Air’s chief executive officer. He declined to be more specific.

“We will recoup this investment in four to five years through funds that come back through usage itself,” he told journalists in Manama on Wednesday, aboard an A330-200, the first aircraft in the fleet to be outfitted with the technology.

Passengers will get the service for free in the first few weeks as the system is being tested, Majali said. As other aircraft are modified, payments will be introduced for the Internet at a cost of QD6 ($15.91) per hour of use and QD11 for 24 hours. Phone-call charges will be the same as roaming charges and payments go through standard telephone bills. Live satellite TV featuring sports games, stock-market updates and news will be free, Majali said.

Gulf Air, one of the Middle East’s oldest carriers, is in the midst of a three-year reorganization to restore profit as it confronts newer rivals in the region such as Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.

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