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United Airlines will significantly expand its route network this summer. Image: Raymond Spekking

Here are the most-read stories from this week’s APEX Daily Experience newsletters. To receive breaking passenger experience industry news in your inbox on a daily basis, subscribe here

United Airlines Announces Major Expansion of Its Route Network


United Airlines today announced a major expansion of its network, with the launch of 22 new routes and the augmentation of 15 existing ones. Subject to government approval, United will launch a seasonal route between San Francisco and Munich, while its daily service between Newark and Tel Aviv will be upgraded with a new Boeing 777-300ER, featuring the airline’s Polaris business-class seats as of May 5. “We’ve been shrinking, and our competitors have been growing at our expense,” said Scott Kirby, United’s president. “We’re going back on offense.” In total, the Chicago-based carrier is increasing service to 31 destinations across the US and Europe – four of which it does not currently fly to.

SoftBank-Backed OneWeb to Merge With Intelsat


SoftBank today announced it will invest $1.7 billion to facilitate a merger between US satellite startup OneWeb and Luxembourg-based Intelsat. The Japanese technology conglomerate said it expects to acquire a 40-percent voting stake in the combined entity, helping to reduce Intelsat’s debt by $3.6 billion, in a deal that is subject to approval from bondholders. The merger between OneWeb and Intelsat could help save on costs as they look to develop a satellite network that can one day deliver affordable Internet access to remote parts of the world. “We are in the midst of a technological revolution … provided we receive the necessary cooperation from Intelsat bondholders,” said Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of SoftBank.

[VIDEO] Warren Buffett Explains Why He Changed His Mind About Airlines

CNBC | FEBRUARY 27, 2017

Warren Buffett turned heads when Berkshire Hathaway disclosed that it had made sizeable investments in the four biggest US carriers. Now the “Oracle of Omaha” has explained the rationale behind his big bets on the country’s aviation sector. “It’s true that the airlines had a bad 20th century. They’re like the Chicago Cubs. And they got that bad century out of the way, I hope,” said Buffett on CNBC’s Squawk Box earlier today. “The hope is they will keep orders in reasonable relationship to potential demand.”

SWISS Inks Deal to Offer Media Carrier’s In-Flight E-Journal Service


Swiss International Air Lines has announced it will offer Media Carrier’s e-journal service, allowing passengers to download reading material to their personal devices up to seven days before flying. SWISS is the fifth Lufthansa Group airline to incorporate the service into its in-flight entertainment offering, with plans to gradually replace its selection of onboard print newspapers and magazines, reducing its carbon footprint by up to 450 tons annually. More than 250 digital titles in 10 languages will be available for download in PDF format, although some publications will be restricted depending on a passenger’s cabin class and frequent flyer status.

GEE Receives a vSTC for Boeing 737 Airconnect Installations in China


The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has granted a vendor supplemental type certificate (vSTC) to Global Eagle Entertainment for its Ku-band Airconnect satellite connectivity system on Boeing 737NG aircraft in China. GEE says it is the first major satellite connectivity service provider to receive CAAC approval for Boeing 737s, which account for more than 40 percent of passenger aircraft in China. “We are thrilled about the new opportunities for GEE to work closely with our Chinese partners,” said Jeff Leddy, GEE’s newly appointed CEO. “GEE is also pursuing vSTC authority for Airbus A320s, which account for an additional 30 percent of the Chinese commercial aviation market.”

CoKinetic Systems Sues Panasonic Avionics


In-flight entertainment software and services company CoKinetic Systems has filed a lawsuit against Panasonic Avionics after the companies recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of their software licensing partnership. The company is seeking damages exceeding $100 million, alleging that Panasonic knowingly engaged in a series of anticompetitive practices aimed at forcing CoKinetic out of the market. “CoKinetic has worked every day on behalf of airlines and their passengers to open the in-flight entertainment market to free and fair competition. This lawsuit is an unfortunate but necessary step towards accomplishing that goal,” said Todd Higgins, managing partner of Crosby & Higgins LLP and CoKinetic’s lead attorney. “Without competition, airlines pay too much, wait too long and struggle to innovate.”

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