Air New Zealand turns on in flight Wi-Fi

Uses Inmarsat’s global GX satellite constellation
  • Stuart Corner (Computerworld New Zealand)
  • 11 October, 2017 08:59

Air New Zealand says it has started trials of inflight Wi-Fi with the installation of the service on one of its long-haul Boeing 777-300 aircraft and will add the capability to other aircraft 777 aircraft flying its international routes over the next couple of months.

It is using global satellite operator Inmarsat’s global GX satellite constellation and has partnered with Panasonic Avionics as the in-cabin technology supplier.

Air New Zealand chief digital officer Avi Golan said the aim of the trial was to gather customer feedback and ensure the service met customer needs before it is rolled out across the international jet fleet.

“The service will be available progressively with the installation of Inflight Wi-Fi on our Boeing 777-300 fleet expected to be completed by June 2018 and our Boeing 777-200 fleet rolling out from April next year,” Golan said.

Air New Zealand this week took delivery of its 10th Boeing 787 Dreamliner, but Golan did not indicate any plans to offer WiFi on these aircraft.

“The trial will not only test the technical aspects of the service, it will also gather feedback on pricing options,” he said.

“Going forward, customers will be able to choose to sign up for different timeframes and have the ability to pay in a variety of ways, including with Airpoints Dollars, as we look to offer a best in class connected inflight experience.”

He added: “Looking ahead, we’re keen to actively explore new content opportunities and will also make Air New Zealand’s friendly chatbot, Oscar, available to help assist passengers to resolve any travel related questions during their journey.”

Air New Zealand first unveiled plans for the service exactly a year ago, with CEO Christopher Luxon being rather more specific about availability. He said, “World-class internet services [will be] progressively available on Tasman, Pacific Island and long haul jet fleets from the end of [2017]. … Domestic New Zealand jet services are likely to offer a Wi-Fi service from 2018.