Monday 19 March 2018

Aer Lingus to roll out high-speed Wi-Fi on European flights

Mile-high connectivity

Aer Lingus stock photo. Pic: Deposit
Aer Lingus stock photo. Pic: Deposit
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Internet access is getting closer for short-haul air passengers, with Aer Lingus set to launch in-flight Wi-Fi next year.

International Airlines Group (IAG) will introduce "high speed inflight Wi-Fi" across its airlines’ shorthaul fleets starting from 2017, it has announced.

The parent company of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling has reached an agreement with Inmarsat to launch the 4G broadband network.

In total, up to 341 short-haul aircraft will be fitted with the company's "next generation European air to ground connectivity", IAG said.

Aer Lingus will begin rollout across its 39 short-haul A320 aircraft "at the end of 2017 and will continue into 2018," Travel has learned.

Pricing has yet to be confirmed, although the airline currently charges €7.95 per hour (or €14.95 per flight) on its long-haul, A330 routes.

The new Wi-Fi will give customers "internet access they expect on the ground while in the air" via their own mobile devices, IAG said in a statement.

The high-speed capacity comes from a combination of Inmarsat’s satellite connectivity and partner Deutsche Telekom's ground network.

"Passengers will have bandwidth capacity to use multiple devices at the same time and connection speeds will be similar to what they have at home," IAG added.

Connectivity was announced for long-haul flights earlier this year.

Wi-Fi has been relatively slow to roll out for air passengers, mainly due to the costs and logistics involved in getting a reliable services across fleets and jurisdictions.

Ryanair has said it plans to introduce Wi-Fi to its aircraft within two years.

“We are giving our customers the fastest connectivity you can get on any aircraft," said IAG chief executive, Willie Walsh.

"It’s what our customers demand and IAG will be the first European airline group to offer high-quality air to ground Wi-Fi on short-haul flights.” 

IAG's first Wi-Fi connected aircraft, a British Airways A321, will be in service next summer, with other airlines to follow as the year plays out.

By 2019, 90pc of the Group's fleet will be fitted with high quality connectivity.

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