US low-cost airline JetBlue Airways Corp yesterday said that it would sell its in-flight entertainment business, LiveTV, to French defence company Thales Group, for $400 million, as part of its cost cutting plan.
LiveTV is the leading provider of live in-flight entertainment and connectivity systems for commercial airlines. In 2013, LiveTV and its partner ViaSat introduced Ka-band satellite-driven onboard connectivity.
Founded in 1998 in Florida, LiveTV has maintenance and support locations around the world to serve the more than 700 aircraft equipped with its products. Current customers include JetBlue, Frontier, AirTran, Alitalia, Virgin Blue, WestJet and Azul.
"LiveTV has been an important part of building the JetBlue experience," said JetBlue president Robin Hayes. "Their ability to combine market leadership and drive technological advances has given JetBlue a market advantage in the onboard experience. We now come to the point where LiveTV's future as a disrupter in the inflight entertainment and data services space is best served by pairing with the right partner."
"LiveTV is a great strategic fit for Thales," said Jean-Bernard LÚvy, chairman and CEO of Thales. "It will improve our positioning in the high growth business of in-flight entertainment and connectivity. Our aim is to offer the highest performance and most competitive and flexible connectivity solution to airlines regardless of their fleet-size, aircraft type or route structure.
JetBlue said it will enter into long-term agreements with LiveTV to continue providing service for its live TV and inflight connectivity product, Fly-Fi.
"This transaction, once completed, preserves JetBlue's access to the most innovative inflight entertainment," said JetBlue CFO, Mark Powers. "At the same time, we believe JetBlue will benefit from reduced operating costs and capital expenditures related to running LiveTV as a subsidiary."
JetBlue is a leading carrier in the US and carries 30 million customers a year to 82 cities in the US, the Caribbean and Latin America with an average of 800 daily flights.