Finnair has signed an agreement with ViaSat Inc to install a high-speed wireless internet network on its entire Airbus A320 series short-haul fleet flying in Europe. The installation of the Wi-Fi equipment will begin in May 2017, and will be completed by June 2018.
With a connection speed of 12 Mbps or higher per passenger, the new system will offer the fastest in-flight internet connection currently available on the market, which enables the use of video streaming services. ViaSat will ensure end-to-end in-flight connectivity service across the Finnair fleet, and partnered with Eutelsat to deliver the high-speed satellite-based internet service, which will cover the European continent.
Last July, Finnair announced that its long-haul fleet of A330 aircraft would be retrofitted with Wi-Fi connectivity by May 2017. Finnair currently operates six A350XWBs which offer passengers wireless connectivity. The airline is expected to receive an additional five A350s by the end of 2017. With both the long-haul and short-haul fleet set to offer internet connectivity by June 2018, over a thousand city pairs in Finnair’s network will offer Wi-Fi connectivity. Additionally, Finnair’s Wi-Fi coverage over Chinese airspace has recently been enabled, having been closed previously due to limitations by the authorities.
Meanwhile, EL AL is currently in ViaSat customer trials on its Boeing fleet and is expected to enter full retail service before the end of the 2016. ViaSat is the prime contractor to these airlines, making available its vertically-integrated in-flight internet system, inclusive of providing STCs; wireless IFE system support; passenger-facing access portals; and end-to-end service that leverages connectivity from ViaSat’s partner, Eutelsat. The connectivity service uses KA-SAT, Eutelsat’s high-capacity Ka-band broadband satellite whose service area spans Europe and the Mediterranean Basin.