China Southern Tries Out Complimentary In-Flight Wi-Fi
China Southern Airlines is offering free in-flight Wi-Fi on select domestic and long-haul routes until the end of October. The Chinese carrier requires customers to register and apply for complimentary in-flight Wi-Fi access on its website at least 24 hours before departure. According to Australian Business Traveller, the service is granted to all business- and first-class passengers as well as to the first 10 economy passengers to register on each flight. The service is the result of a partnership between Panasonic Avionics and China Telecom Satellite, and is part of the companies’ Ku-band in-flight connectivity trial on several Chinese airlines.
Fit for a President: ViaSat to Provide In-Flight Connectivity on Air Force One
The US Defense Information Systems Agency has awarded ViaSat a contract to supply in-flight connectivity on board Air Force One and other aircraft used by senior US leaders. ViaSat says its hybrid Ku-/Ka-band system enables “a Situation Room in the sky” experience, with the ability to stream high-definition video for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, while ensuring Air Force One can maintain two-way communications through HD video conference calling. “This award is a significant accomplishment, and we are proud to be delivering remarkably fast data speeds and an abundance of capacity to support the in-flight communications needs of our government’s senior leadership on Air Force One and other special air mission aircraft,” says Ken Peterman, ViaSat’s SVP and GM, Government Systems Division.
Box, Set, Match: Airlines Adapt to Shifting TV Habits With Expanded IFE Libraries
United Airlines has partnered with digital production studio Thinkingbox to create a 360-degree, 3-D virtual tour of its Polaris business-class cabin. Narrated by Matt Damon, the tour uses the Unreal 3-D game engine and Oculus Rift’s latest headset and headphones to provide a sneak peek of the amenities on board its upcoming Boeing 777-300ER cabin and inside new terminal gate lounges. The airline will be showing the VR experience to the public at events including The Barclays PGA golf tournament on August 25-28 and the New York City Marathon in November.
Deferred Deliveries: AA Reschedules Airbus A350 Orders
American Airlines (AA) has reached an agreement with Airbus to defer the delivery of 22 wide-body A350-900 XWBs, an order inherited from the US Airways merger. The rescheduled deliveries will allow AA to spread out more than $1 billion in spending amid a 44 percent fall to $950 million in second-quarter profits. The US carrier will defer each aircraft’s arrival by an average of 26 months, having previously expected to receive its first A350 in spring 2018, and five per year between 2019 and 2022. AA says the revised delivery schedule will save the airline $500 million in 2017 and $700 million in 2018.
Boeing, Boeing, Gone? Aircraft Manufacturer Considers Ending Production of the 747
ANA has unveiled images of its latest Star Wars-themed aircraft as part of its ongoing agreement with Disney. The fourth aircraft in the series will feature a livery inspired by everyone’s favorite neurotic humanoid robot, C-3PO. The Boeing 777-200 will fly domestic routes starting March 2017 after the December release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. “The partnership with Star Wars, beloved by audiences in Japan and around the globe, is a perfect match as Japan’s largest airline seeks to connect travelers around the world through this project,” said an airline spokesperson, in a statement.
So Far, So Good: SWISS’ In-Flight Data Roaming and Phone Calling Gets Pax Thumbs Up
Swiss International Air Lines says its in-flight 3G mobile data and telephone roaming packages have proved popular among passengers on board the airline’s new Boeing 777-300ERs, which entered service earlier this year. “The data packages have proved very popular,” says Anna Rothholz, the airline’s manager of Organizational Change and Projects. “And the roaming telephone facility hasn’t prompted any complaints from passengers yet either.” SWISS says it decided to offer three different packages at varying prices, following a 10-month period of market research into customers’ in-flight connectivity wishes and needs.