By Ogova Ondego
Published February 5, 2010
The global air industry lost some US$11 billion and revenues declined by US$80 billion in 2009. Giovanni Bisignani, the chief executive officer of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), says it will take at least three years for the sector to recover.
Rather than discourage airlines from investing in the sector, companies like Oman Air are introducing combined in-flight WiFi and mobile phone services.
According to an article in eTurboNews.com by Kevin Rozario, “Passengers on Oman Air will have access to Internet connectivity and be able to use their mobile devices from mid-February when the airline launches these services…on a newly-delivered Airbus A330.”
This is the first time that a combined WiFi and mobile services are being used on an airline. While Delta launched its WiFi service on its domestic services in 2009, Rozario reports that “Emirates and Ryanair have started with mobile phone services on shorter routes – in the case of the latter, as a way of increasing ancillary revenue, something the carrier is keen to exploit at prices reported to be up to “3 per minute.”
Oman Air’s first A330 combined mobile and WiFi offering will most likely service its London Heathrow to Muscat route. Another six that have been ordered are expected to be delivered on a rolling schedule to 2011.
Rozario quotes Peter Hill, the Oman Air CEO, as saying, “For many travellers, the ability to communicate via phone, SMS, email, or Internet is now a vital part of everyday life. People are increasingly expecting connectivity anywhere and anytime.”
The airline’s A330 fleet, Rozario writes, has been fitted with the Airbus ALNA V2 system, using Honeywell’s SwiftBroadband (SBB) solution. This supports both mobile phone and Internet in-flight communication, ensuring that whatever devices passengers choose, they can get access.
“In-flight connectivity is another step in Oman Air’s recent move towards a more luxury and service-oriented positioning as it taps the prestige tourism market. The new A330 also offers a first-class cabin, another new addition for the Heathrow route, offering six mini-suites with flat beds and 23-inch monitors, plus a separate lounge area, while crew are now dressed in Balenciaga-designed uniforms.”
In December 2009, Oman Air launched a US$10 million international advertising campaign in key European and Asian markets with the UK, France, and Germany specified as particular targets. The campaign comes on the back of the launch of new routes to Paris, Munich, Frankfurt, Male in the Maldives, and Colombo in Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, Tanzanian fashion designer, Mustafa Hassanali, is set to showcase his Parfum d’ Amour’, collection at the Afric village in Douala , Cameroon, on February 6, 2010.
Afric Collection, in its sixth year, runs February 1-7, 2010 and brings the West African fashion designers under the roof of one ‘Afric Village’.
Hassanali says his Parfum d’Amour collection is “a sensual collection inspired by the love of life as we approach St Valentine’s Day. It’s a collection for the women of confidence, power and prestige. The gowns are elegant and exquisite to the core, flaunting feminine fragrance of sensual spirituality.”
Hassanali has been Invited as a ‘grand finale’ Guest Designer on the Gala Night of February 6, 2010. Some other leading designers at the event include Imane Ayissi (Paris/Cameroon), Patheo (Burkina Faso), Modela (Nigeria), Jose Essam (Congo-Kinshasa), Dio Ali (Senegal) and B Exotiqe (Ghana). It is his first exhibition in Francophone Africa.
Also participating in the event is Robbi Morro, a young Tanzanian designer who operates under the Mapozi Designs label; he showcases in the ‘Afric Collection Young Designer Category’ alongside other ‘Emerging Designers’ from other African Countries.