Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways plans to upgrade and refurbish 23 narrow-body Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft and remove in-flight entertainment screens in favour of wireless streaming, the airline announced on Sunday at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.
The retrofitting of the aircraft, which are mainly used on short-haul regional services, will also include ergonomic ‘extra-spatial’ design seats and fast-charging USB points, along with an adjustable phone and tablet holder.
Passengers will be encouraged to use their own devices to use the new wireless in-flight entertainment system, giving them access to more than 300 hours of free TV shows and movies through their own devices.
To view a wider range of content – including premium TV programming such as HBO – passengers can download the airline’s new E-Box Stream app prior to travelling.
By removing the screens, Etihad Airways will carry 18 tonnes less per year and save on fuel costs, according to the airline’s vice president of product and guest experience, Jamal Al Awadhi.
Inflight entertainment via personal seat back screens will remain standard on economy class seats on the airlines wide-body aircraft.
Al Awadhi said that the changes do not represent a new cabin or ticket class.
“This is what we call the evolution of economy. We’ve evolved the economy proposition, and that touches not only seats, but the food and beverage proposition as well,” he said.
“We are trying to leverage more interactions through personal devices. We have a plan to bring on further integration, but we continue to invest on our wide-bodys our IFE screens and we will continue to do so for the foreseeable future,” Al Awadhi added. More
Bernd Debusmann Jr arabianbusiness.com