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Emirates Brings Back Live Onboard TV But Free Wi-Fi Inflight Isn’t Returning

Emirates Brings Back Live Onboard TV But Free Wi-Fi Inflight Isn’t Returning

Emirates announced on Tuesday that it is bringing back live TV on around 176 aircraft after the system was switched off more than a year in order to save on licensing costs. Live TV is being brought back in time so that passengers can enjoy the rescheduled UEFA Euro 2020 soccer tournament and 2020 Summer Olympics, as well as Wimbledon, the NBA finals and the PGA tour.

Live TV was quietly turned off in May 2020 as the pandemic decimated the aviation industry and just like other airlines, Emirates moved to slash unnecessary costs and shore up its finances.

Photo Credit: Emirates

At the time, a spokesperson for the airline explained: “The service comes with significant data and licensing costs, but we invested in it as part of overall our inflight customer experience. With fewer global sporting events at the moment, LiveTV has much-reduced value.”

Live sports will be shown across two channels on Emirates’ award-winning ice in-flight entertainment system. Sport 24 and Sport 24 Extra are the world’s first and only live sports channels for the airline industry and have rights to show nearly all the big tournaments including Premier League soccer matches, NFL, Ryder Cup, and more.

Sport 24 broadcasts 24-hours a day with around 16 hours of premium sports contents per day, while Sport 24 Extra outputs around 150 hours of live sports entertainment per month.

Before the pandemic, Emirates also gave passengers access to eight different live channels, including BBC World News, CNBC and CNN International. It’s not known whether the airline intends to pay for the licensing for these additional stations.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Emirates will be bringing back free inflight wi-fi after dropping the service last year for the majority of passengers. Emirates used to spend millions of dollars every year to subsidise its in-flight wi-fi service, including offering every customer a limited amount of free data.

A spokesperson said at the time that the airline was “monitoring developments closely” and would resume these services when “practicable”. Most passengers now have to pay for inflight wi-fi, although there are some free packages available for frequent flyers and premium passengers.

Last week, Emirates reported a record $6 billion loss of the 2020/2021 financial year and revealed that it had so far received $3 billion in support from the government of Dubai. The airline, however, is hoping to serve nearly 90 per cent of its pre-pandemic route network by July and reactivating 30 Airbus A380’s as passenger numbers start to increase.

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