April 27, 2015 – Following a series of successful trials, Arkefly, the charter carrier of TUI Group’s Dutch arm, is getting set to begin an IFE program intended to give passengers a seamless “airport-to-airport IFE” experience.
Beginning in July, AirFi boxes (manufactured by MI Airline) will be deployed at Arkefly’s two main logistical bases of Amsterdam Schiphol and Eindhoven Airport in the Netherlands, as well as about 10 of its international destination airports. The compact (200 x 120 x 70mm), battery operated boxes (pictured left) will be tucked away at departure gates, creating a free 3G-based wi-fi network for Arkefly guests at the airport.
Once connected to the free AirFi Ground network, holiday-makers will be presented with an airline branded portal. From there, they will be able to access popular social media accounts and messaging services and a selection of other websites. Passengers at the gate will also have the chance to play multi-player HTML 5 games, enjoy digital content supplied by AirFi and Arkefly, and much more. In the future, passengers will also be able to pre-book excursions for their trip while they wait.
In the air:
To make the experience seamless, AirFi boxes onboard Arkefly’s fleet of five B737s, one B767 and three B787 aircraft will stream free interactive IFE content to guest’s mobile devices throughout their flight. The streaming service – accessible by quick log-in and without a prior app download – will feature games, magazines and news, video content, seat-to-seat messaging and opportunities to pre-book destination activities offered by TUI Group.
Hans van de Velde, MD of Arkefly said of the scheme, “We understand that things like offering AirFi make a big difference to the customer experience. It’s fun, helpful, easy, and it brings our customers in the holiday mood. After all, a holiday shouldn’t just start once you’ve reached your holiday destination.”
Because the AirFi solution is totally portable and light (1.2kg) and does not require modification to the aircraft, lengthy and expensive safety certifications associated with other IFE solutions will not be necessary for Arkefly.
At the start of each day, AirFi boxes will be placed in crew-dedicated overhead stowage bins and switched on with the push of a button. At the end of each day, boxes will be offloaded and their long-life batteries will charge as they synchronize wirelessly with a “Proxy Box” on the ground. The battery charge can last up to 15 hours, and the boxes need four hours to fully charge, download user data and update content. When the boxes are synchronized, content is automatically updated and user data can be saved to the airline’s own network for analysis.