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.For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.