Viasat Commercial Aviation Blog

APEX EXPO 2017 - Event Review - ViaSat Pushes #PaxEx forward

#PaxEx was the hot topic on everyone’s minds in Long Beach, California, as APEX EXPO 2017 took place at the Long Beach Convention Centre from September 25-28.

Airline delegates, industry thought-leaders, vendors, media and AvGeeks alike were all present to discuss the current trends, events and challenges in the aviation industry, specifically around one of the most exciting and progressive topics in the industry - the passenger experience.

There were three key things discussed over the course of the week:

  1. Improving the passenger experience.
  2. Monetizing the passenger journey.
  3. The future of IFC, IFE and #PaxEx.

ViaSat Booth at APEX EXPO 2017

Improving the passenger experience

Whether it’s with better content, personalisation, improved UX and UI, cabin innovations or journey optimisation, improving the passenger experience is still a multifaceted and increasingly challenging prospect. With better passenger experience comes increased loyalty, ticket sales and ancillary revenue, but how do airlines and vendors work together to find #PaxEx nirvana?

Fox unveils disruptive content model

Well, one notable announcement from APEX was from Fox, with their industry-first move: a merger of the non-theatrical operations of 20th Century Fox and Fox Networks Group, bringing tens of thousands of titles from Fox Films, BlueSky Studios, Fox Television and the National Geographic library, and new content from Baby TV, Fox Life and more, in a vast and comprehensive catalog of passenger entertainment for airlines.

The new entity is structured to enable integrated sales, licensing and end-to-end service infrastructure, but has implications beyond merely broadening in-flight entertainment (IFE) choices. “We can now offer co-branding and development of branded channels on board that are affordable to airlines. This is a significant change for our company, which is dynamic, fluid and flexible,” Julian Levin, executive vice-president, Digital Exhibition and Non-Theatrical Sales and Distribution at Fox, says. “We have just closed a deal with an airline that is exclusively taking Fox content, so we now have enough branding and enough channels to satisfy an airline’s full content requirements.”

Tigerair Australia roars ahead in paxex race

Tigerair AU, an airline we’re proud to call a Viasat customer, is the very airline mentioned above that is exclusively taking Fox content. Tigerair also announced the expansion of ViaSat’s wireless IFE solution to all of its domestic routes. The above is a great example of airlines, vendors and CSPs all working together to improve the passenger experience.

Pool Deck at Hyatt Regency

Monetizing the passenger journey

Of course we all want to improve the passenger journey from end to end, but how do we make it both beneficial to passengers and profitable for the airlines? An APEX committee is working with multiple stakeholders to figure out how best to monetize the passenger journey through advertising and sponsorship. As the discussions progress, the committee will release information to the industry on relevant advertising streams and will be doing several workshops with airlines and vendors in the near future around the topic.

Some say the perfect business model in the IFE space has yet to be found. The model must satisfy passenger needs while also delivering healthy revenue streams to the airlines. The ViaSat IFE model is powered by passenger needs. As a single source supplier for everything from our satellite constellation, to antennae and servers, through to content, we can deliver economies of scale and a seamless, optimised end-to-end experience.

Laguna Beach on the way to APEX EXPO

The future of IFC, IFE and #PaxEx

With the global commercial fleet expected to double by 2050 to almost 50,000 aircraft, and the in-flight broadband market set to be worth $130bn by 2035, the future of IFC, IFE and Passenger Experience solutions is certainly bright; but what’s coming down the line from this year's APEX EXPO vendors?

We were delighted to see SkyLights in the limelight once again, having met CEO David Dicko at AIX 2016 and tried out his original Bravo Theatre headset personally (we thought it was awesome), we're glad to see the company making strides and continuing to innovate and lead in the in-flight VR and immersive IFE space. SkyLights latest headset, called AlloSky, resembles a sleek pair of aviator sunglasses and comes with fresh content deals signed with Warner Brothers, National Geographic, Lionsgate and BBC. Airline launch partners for the in-flight entertainment solution include Air France, Joon, Corsair and Jetfly, in addition to partnerships with gategroup and Accor Hotels. SkyLights have also announced deals with Air France, Joon and others for 2018 and beyond. Business travellers can expect to see the headset on some flights soon for free, with economy passengers having to pay $15 for the pleasure.

International Airlines Group's (IAG) low-cost carrier Level introduced an onboard payment system, called Pair and Pay, which enables passengers to pay for food, drinks, Wi-Fi, amenity kits and duty-free goods by pairing their mobile devices to the seatback in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. The system was developed with creative design agency Massive and data analytics agency Black Swan. The product was voted Best IFE Innovation at the APEX awards.

JetBlue wins APEX Best Wi-Fi Award

Speaking of the APEX awards, we were delighted to see JetBlue scoop the APEX Award for best Wi-fi. JetBlue uses ViaSat connectivity exclusively on its fleet, to offer the real internet experience to passengers - and for free.

The award for Best Personalization Innovation went to Emirates’ in-flight portal, developed by SITAONAIR, which enables passengers to log into the Internet ONAIR portal with their Skywards credentials for a personalized passenger experience. The integration offers many services including a custom welcome message, Wi-Fi pricing and offerings tailored to the passenger’s tier level. Frequent-flyer miles can also be used toward the payment of Wi-Fi sessions and more. This one is particularly interesting as personalized IFE is a generating a huge amount of buzz in the industry at the moment. While I don’t think it’s the holy grail exactly (familiarity and agility are both very important too), personalization is definitely something all IFE vendors need to be looking at.

Sunset in Long Beach

Big shout-out to all at APEX for such an awesome event. And so, the countdown to AIX begins! There’s no doubt that there’ll be plenty more IFE, IFC and #PaxEx innovation to talk about in 6 months time. See you at AIX 2018!

Let's meet at AIX 2018



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Image credits

Headline photo, the jetBlue team receives Best Wi-Fi Award at APEX 2017 from Brian Kelly, the Points Guy. Source: APEX -

ViaSat booth at APEX 2017, venue, LA and Long Beach sunset pics - ViaSat crew.