Image: Marcelo Cáceres

Image: Marcelo Cáceres

APEX Insight: Avianca Brazil has completed the installation of GEE’s Ku-band antenna on two of its aircraft, with Internet accessibility on flights scheduled to begin in October. Other airlines in the region are also beginning to ramp up installations to meet the demand for in-flight connectivity, which, according to a recent survey by Inmarsat, is high among Latin American passengers.

Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) has upped the ante in the race to connect passengers flying on Latin American airlines. Yesterday, Avianca Brazil announced that it has completed installation of GEE’s Ku-band antenna on two aircraft and claims that it will be the first connected airline in South America.

“Our broad-based experience as one of the world’s largest providers of in-flight connectivity and entertainment, together with our patented technologies, will give Avianca [Brazil]’s passengers an unprecedented Internet experience in the air,” said Abel Avellan, GEE’s president, in a press release.

With operations scheduled to begin in October on two Avianca Brazil aircraft, passengers will be able to access the Internet and watch live TV and on-demand videos on their personal devices while flying on domestic routes. The airline plans to have its entire fleet equipped by the end of 2017. “We really dedicate a lot of effort and attention in the search for new ways to positively surprise our customers,” said José Efromovich, CEO of Avianca Brazil. “Today, I am proud to present the company as the Brazilian and South American pioneer in offering onboard connectivity services.”

And close behind in the race to bring in-flight connectivity to passengers is Brazilian low-cost carrier Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes (GOL), which completed its first installation of Gogo’s 2Ku system on a Boeing 737-800 in August. GOL plans to equip its entire fleet of 139 aircraft with 2Ku, along with Gogo’s wireless IFE system, and live Gogo TV.

Passengers on Aeroméxico’s nine new Boeing 787-8 aircraft are beginning to enjoy Panasonic Avionics’ eXTV Live TV service, via Panasonic’s Ku-band broadband connectivity system installed on the airline’s Dreamliners.

Chilean-based LATAM’s long-haul aircraft are equipped with embedded-screen IFE systems, although without satellite connectivity. The airline’s narrow-body fleet previously had L-band connectivity, but it has been reported that the system has been deactivated and the airline is now focusing on wireless IFE technology.

Inmarsat’s 2015-2016 In-Flight Connectivity Survey” gathered responses from over 9,000 passengers worldwide, and the results suggest that Latin American passengers are strongly demanding in-flight broadband connectivity. Only 55 percent of the region’s passengers have had access to IFEC, and of those who have never flown on a connected aircraft, 91 percent want to access the service. According to the survey, 78 percent of Latin American passengers see connectivity as an “important solution to their needs,” the highest result of any region. And 61 percent of passengers would even choose connectivity over an in-flight meal.