By 2006, Boeing Connexion had established itself as the leading Internet service provider (ISP) for the airline industry, installing its Wi-Fi modems on the planes of 12 international carriers.
In August, however, the company announced that at year’s end it would pull the plug on the 156 planes it served, leaving all of the airlines (Lufthansa, El Al, and Singapore Airlines among them) to scramble for new providers. According to Boeing spokesman Tim Neale, there wasn’t enough demand—from additional airlines or from passengers—to make the service profitable. "After more than two years, the number of users per flight was still in the low single digits," explains Neale.
Is it possible that today’s travelers—whether they’re flying for business or for pleasure—want to maintain one place in their lives that is Internet-free?Singapore Airlines spokesman James Boyd doubts it. "If you’re on an 18-hour flight from NYC to Singapore—that’s a day!" he points out. "Our philosophy is to provide passengers with a sense of connectivity. We want them to live the same lives on the flight as on the ground." Boyd says Singapore is currently considering other providers. Lufthansa, too, is actively seeking a new ISP and hopes to restart the service by the end of 2007. "Our customers loved it," says Lufthansa spokesperson Jennifer Urbaniak. "Every survey we did received really strong feedback."
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