Southwest Partners With GEE and Panasonic for Faster In-Flight Connectivity
Southwest Airlines says it will bring improved in-flight entertainment and faster Wi-Fi to more than 700 aircraft starting next year. The Dallas-based carrier will continue using Global Eagle Entertainment’s Airconnect system, while upgrading technology on its existing fleet to increase bandwidth and offer connectivity speeds that are three to four times faster than currently available. Southwest also announced a partnership with Panasonic Avionics to equip satellite-based Wi-Fi hardware and live television services on aircraft including the upcoming Boeing 737 MAX fleet scheduled for the end of 2017. The airline says the changes won’t impact pricing on its in-flight offerings, which include live television, movies and Internet access.
Airbus Unveils Modular Cabin Concept Inspired by Cargo Aircraft
Airbus today unveiled a program to help airlines temporarily install coffee shops, gyms, yoga studios, children’s play areas, sleeping pods and bars on board aircraft. The program, called Transpose, was developed by Airbus-owned Silicon Valley startup A³ and could enable airlines to reconfigure cabins for every flight by using common cargo technology. “Freighter aircraft have rapid-change interiors, and don’t have to invest the money on a ground-up design,” said Jason Chua, a project executive at A³. “Transpose is taking something familiar and allowing you to use it in a different way.”
Polaris Coming to United Airlines’ Boeing 777-300ER in February 2017
United Airlines’ upcoming Boeing 777-300ER will be the first aircraft to feature the new Polaris direct-aisle seats. The Chicago-based carrier expects to receive the first of 14 777-300ERs by the end of the month, and plans for the aircraft and its updated business-class interior to enter service on February 16. The Polaris cabin layout will include space for 60 business-class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. “Our 777-300ER fleet represents a new era in premium air travel,” said Julia Haywood, executive vice-president and chief commercial officer of United. “With United Polaris business class, we are providing reimagined in-flight dining, new amenities, the first United Polaris lounge at Chicago O’Hare International Airport and now this custom-designed seat.”
Factory Fresh: SAA Unveils New Business Class on First A330-300
South African Airways (SAA) has taken delivery of its first of five Airbus A330-300s on order. SAA’s wide-body aircraft can accommodate up to 249 passengers, 46 of which will be in business class with all-new Vantage XL seats by Thompson Aero Seating in a 1-2-1 configuration. The economy-class cabin features 203 slimline seats that offer extra personal space, 10.1-inch seatback displays, USB charging ports and access to shared PC power points. The A330-300 also comes linefit with an in-flight entertainment system, offering up to 100 TV shows, 15 games, 14 radio channels and 170 albums.
Will Different Work? Alaska Airlines and Virgin America Merger Finalized
Alaska Air Group announced yesterday that it has closed its acquisition of Virgin America. Alaska Airlines and Virgin America will now work to secure FAA certification to operate as a single carrier, a process which they expect to complete in early 2018. While the two airline brands differ, they’re setting out to prove that unlikely pairings can result in something even better. “Alaska Airlines and Virgin America are different airlines, but we believe different works — and we’re confident flyers will agree,” said Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Air Group. ”We plan to make this the most customer-friendly merger ever, and we will have much more to announce over the coming weeks.”
Turkish Airlines to Equip New Narrow-Body Fleet With Panasonic IFEC
Turkish Airlines has selected Panasonic Avionics’ onboard connectivity and eX1 in-flight entertainment system for its upcoming narrow-body fleet. The IFEC system will include high-speed, global Wi-Fi coverage and live television channels, including Sport 24 and Turkey’s national public broadcaster, TRT. Passengers will also have access to a real-time customized text news service provided by Anadolu Agency via Panasonic’s IFE system. “The personalized interface designed for an optimal viewing experience combined with the industry’s largest library of games, audio and video is what made eX1 a proper decision for our flag carrier in this regard,” says İlker Aycı, chairman of the board and the executive committee of Turkish Airlines.