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IPads Help Some Airlines Cut Costs

Swapping tablets for heavy in-air entertainment systems saves fuel
IPads Help Some Airlines Cut Costs
Illustration by Al Murphy

Coach travelers on Singapore-based carrier Scoot, the budget unit of Singapore Airlines that launched service on June 4, can while away the hours with a $17 rented iPad chock-full of movies, music, games, and TV shows. Last fall, Jetstar, the budget offshoot of Qantas Airways, also started offering iPads for $10-$15 on flights over two hours. While the tablets are undeniably popular, their inclusion in inflight entertainment (IFE) offerings has more to do with their weight.

Ditching the equipment and wiring that feeds seatback displays throughout a plane, not to mention the screens themselves, can shed thousands of pounds across airline fleets—weight that translates directly to consumption of jet fuel, whose cost is up 36 percent in two years. Scoot says that removing inflight entertainment systems reduced the weight of its four Boeing 777s by 7 percent—even after adding 40 percent more seats.