British Airways has confirmed that it plans to offer both short-haul and long-haul connectivity across its fleet.
IAG, the carrier’s owner, said at an investor day this week that it is “evaluating wifi retrofit for over 100 existing [long-haul] aircraft” while short-haul will look at “extending Inmarsat’s Air-to-Ground (AtG) offer to over 300 aircraft”.
In addition, it is “setting aggressive targets” for the installation with 90 per cent of long-haul aircraft to have wifi fitted by early 2019 and the first in-service short-haul AtG aircraft planned for 2017.
Fellow IAG airline Vueling also offers connectivity (in English with Spanish subtitles)
The news comes as no surprise. BA trialled long-haul wifi on a B747-400 for over 12 months during 2014 and into 2015 (see news, November 2013).
The aircraft was fitted with the Panasonic Global Communications Suite “to provide a range of entertainment to customers’ personal electronic devices under the name High Life Connect” and operated on a range of different routes “to test how the system performs and identify usage levels to and from a range of destinations”.
Since the Panasonic trial ended earlier this year and only BA’s London City service to New York has offered onboard connectivity.
As far as short-haul wifi connectivity is concerned, BA is planning Europe’s first inflight 4G broadband service (see news, April 23), while the previous June it announced it was in “advanced discussions” with UK satellite firm Inmarsat to introduce high-speed inflight internet (see news, June 2014).
Last month, Willie Walsh, the chief executive of IAG and former CEO of BA, was quoted by Reuters as saying: “We think the technology platforms are well established now and can facilitate our requirement which is for global coverage. So watch this space is what I would say.”
Subscribers can click here to read out September 2015 feature on the new connectivity options onboard airlines worldwide.