interior of passenger aircraft
Credit: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images


The inflight connectivity and entertainment (IFC/IFE) sector could take years to return to pre-COVID-19 business levels, according to a new analysis. But while the sector has followed commercial and business aviation into a deep rut, analysts and executives say they can see sunnier days ahead.

北方天空研究公司(Northern Sky Research)的一份最新报告显示,到2029年,IFC的累计收入将达到370亿美元,尽管近期因新冠病毒而大幅下降。总的来说,这一时期该行业的年复合增长率应为9.8%。

A new report from Northern Sky Research sees almost $37 billion in cumulative IFC revenue through 2029, despite a near-term plunge due to the novel coronavirus. Overall, the sector should see a compound annual growth rate of 9.8% in the period.

不过,业务可能会在好转之前恶化。“市场困难可能会持续很长一段时间,”而且在2022年前不会有好转,Northern Sky承认。“这种情况很可能发生,因为疫情的发展导致飞机持续停飞,航空公司面临财务压力,原始设备制造商降低飞机生产率,经济放缓,以及可能出现的飞行麻烦和心理压力都使旅客望而却步。”

Still, business probably will get worse before it gets better. “Market difficulties are likely to remain for an extended period” and not abate before 2022, Northern Sky acknowledges. “This is likely to occur as pandemic progression results in continued grounded aircraft and financial pressures on airlines, OEMs ramping down aircraft production rates, economic slowdown scenarios, and possible flying hassles and psychological resistance deterring travelers.”

IFC和IFE供应商在最近的季度电话会议上也表达了同样的看法。Thales董事长兼首席执行官Patrice Caine表示:“这是一项与航空公司相关的业务,也将受到这场航空危机的影响。”

IFC and IFE providers echoed as much in recent quarterly teleconferences. “It’s an airline-related business,” says Thales Chairman and CEO Patrice Caine, and “will be affected as well by this aeronautical crisis.”


Thales 是一家多行业服务提供商,因此更适合应对经济低迷。IFE在2019年的业务规模为8亿欧元(8.78亿美元),占其销售额的11%。但是在2020年第一季度,由于航空公司活动的减少以及飞机OEM的减产,负责IFE的Thales航空部门是该法国公司所有业务部门中遭受打击最严重的部门。

Thales is a multi-industrial provider, so it is better suited to weather the downturn. IFE was an €800 million ($878 million) business in 2019, 11% of their sales. But in the first quarter of 2020, the Thales aerospace segment that houses IFE was the hardest hit of the French company’s divisions, due to the drop in both airline activity and production cuts by aircraft OEMs.


 “The impact will be very significant, for sure, in the short run,” Caine told investors and analysts April 28.


Competitors are having a more difficult time. Gogo reported a net loss of $84.8 million for the first quarter ended March 31, which includes charges of $46.4 million related to the impairment of certain long-lived assets and $6.8 million in additional credit loss reserves taken during the quarter. The quarterly loss was fourfold compared with a year before.

可悲的是,这家四面楚歌的公司(近年来被认为正在寻找买主)原本期盼在上个季度开始时迎来光明的一年。Gogo首席执行官兼总裁Oakleigh Thorne在季度报告开始时表示:“我要借用查尔斯•狄更斯的作品来看待这个季度,也就是说,第一季度绝对是两个季度的故事。1月2月是最佳时期,而3月是几乎最糟糕的时期。”

Tragically, the embattled company—which in recent years considered looking for a buyer—was expecting a bright year at the start of the last quarter. “I am going to steal a little Charles Dickens to put the quarter in perspective, and that is that the first quarter was definitely a tale of two quarters,” Gogo CEO and President Oakleigh Thorne said at the start of his quarterly report. “It was the best of times in January and February and close to the worst of times in March.”


Unfortunately, April business results were even worse than in March, he continued. That was when commercial air traffic dropped 95% from a year before, and 105 of 193 airlines globally were not flying at all. Business aviation also was down 80%. Roughly 30% of Gogo’s 5,700 business jet air-to-ground customer accounts cut their spending with the IFC provider, including 940 account suspensions and more than 750 service plan downgrades.


The company—which a year ago concluded a major restructuring—is undertaking another round of dramatic changes to bolster its finances. Gogo furloughed 54% of its workforce effective May 4, affecting around 600 employees across all three of Gogo’s business segments, as well as at its headquarters.


The company applied for an $81 million grant and a $150 million loan under the recently enacted U.S. Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. If it receives funding, “it will modify the announced personnel actions to comply with the terms of that assistance.” Compensation was cut for everyone else, including 30% for the CEO and directors on the board and 20% for the rest of executive leadership.


On May 11, executives outlined ongoing negotiations with satellite suppliers and customers to redo contract terms. They also are delaying aircraft equipment installations at airlines, especially those tied to older deals where Gogo “heavily” subsidized equipment under a previous business model. To play it safe, executives now are planning on practically no more installations the rest of this year. Other cutbacks include deferring capital equipment purchases and reducing spending on marketing, travel and nonessentials.


Thorne said the cost savings could save Gogo up to $170 million in cash through the end of 2021. But S&P Global Ratings on May 12 reaffirmed its negative credit watch on Gogo, as its liquidity will remain under pressure. The credit rating agency said by the end of next year Gogo will have burned $100 million of what was a $211 million cash pile at the start of April.

这条消息是Michael Bruno在 Aviation Week & Space Technology 发表的文章。《Aviation Week & Space Technology》由人脉最广、经验最丰富的记者团队提供支持,为新趋势、最佳操作实践和政策、要求和预算的持续更新提供关键情报。 点击此处查看有关 Aviation Week & Space Technology 更多消息。