Air India suspends inflight entertainment services

MUMBAI: Once flights resume post lockdown, Air India passengers will find that there their seat-back screens no longer play movies, television programs, music etc as the airline has temporarily suspended its inflight entertainment content services.
A letter sent by Air India inflight services to the airline cabin crew on April 29 said that “due to certain technical and operational reasons the in-flight entertainment (IFE) content currently loaded onboard Air India aircraft ‘is not to be played’ with effect from May 1, 2020, until further instructions.”
Currently, Air India and other Indian carriers have only been operating cargo flights. But once the flights resume post lockdown, it would be a double whammy for domestic passengers with no IFE and a scaled down inflight menu, what with social distancing norms to do away with hot meals and beverages on almost every airline’s domestic flights.
The letter said that on all Boeing flights an announcement about no IFE should be made before take off. “The IFE system is to be utilised for playing the appropriate flight related announcements, information and safety audio/video only, that is, the entertainment content is not to be played till further notice,” it added.
But contrary to what the IFE department’s letter said, an Air India spokesperson said that “when we resume normal operations, we will be reactivating the in-flight entertainment, but not on our narrow body aircraft flying in the domestic sector.”
When specifically asked whether IFE will be available on Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the spokesperson said “as and when scheduled operations start on international sectors…yes.”
IFE wasn’t available on Air India’s Airbus fleet of aircraft, but its Boeing fleet, including Boeing Dreamliners and Boeing 777s that operate international flights to Singapore, Japan, Australia, China, UK, US etc offered quite a decent list of movies, TV serials and music to choose from. The Dreamliner, for instance, has IFE system equipped with large LCD display screens, controlled by tethered passenger control units with gaming capacity.
An airline source said that the tender for IFE content would have expired and since no passenger flights are being operated the airline would have kept the renewal in abeyance for now.

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