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Swissair Takes a Gamble on New System

Entertainment: Airline signs contract for an interactive network offering gaming, movies.

July 31, 1996|From Times Wire Services

Passengers on Swissair's long-haul jets later this year will get a chance to do some casino-style gambling during their flights.

Las Vegas-based Interactive Flight Technologies has completed a contract with Swissair for the installation of its In-Flight Entertainment Network on all of the airline's long-haul jets.

The first plane is scheduled to be equipped with the system, which will cost between $70 million and $80 million, in October and to be in flight by November.

In addition to gaming, the system offers passengers a choice of 60 movies and various children's video games. Passengers access the system with a credit card and enter the amount of money they wish to have in credit.

IFT will be paid from the system's gambling revenue and will receive a portion of other revenue for managing the system. Because gambling is illegal on domestic flights, such systems are unlikely to appear in the U.S. except on planes that are used on international routes.

Interactive Flight isn't the only maker of interactive systems for airlines. Other companies--including GEC-Marconi InFlight Systems Inc., a unit of Fairfield, Conn.-based General Electric Co., and Hughes-Avicom International of California, a unit of Detroit-based General Motors Corp.'s Hughes Electronics unit--make similar systems that are already used on British Airways, Air France and other carriers.

But Interactive Flight's product distinguishes itself by offering a larger screen, digital technology and video on demand, according to Steve Fieldman, vice president of business development for the company.

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