Passengers flying British Airways (BA) will be able to use various internet-based services such as Skype, FaceTime and Netflix from the aircraft from 2017 onwards. The carrier's parent company International Airlines Group (IAG) has signed a deal with Chicago-based Gogo, to incorporate Wi-Fi on its long haul flights.
Gogo, a provider of in-flight broadband internet services on commercial and business aircraft will install its next generation satellite Wi-Fi system called the 2Ku on 118 BA airplanes. The company claimed that the satellite technology uses 2 flat panel antennas which would provide internet speeds of up to 70 Mbps on board. While the first BA aircraft to have this system will be in service in 2017, a majority of the installations are expected to be completed by 2019.
BA claimed that the internet service would be the fastest Wi-Fi connection on long-haul flights. The deal is said to cost BA more than £30m (€38.09m, $43.43m), which translates to about £250,000 per aircraft. While basic service will be provided to customers for free, there could extra charges for premium services and connections.
Other than BA, IAG's other subsidiaries, namely, Iberia and Aer Lingus will also have the 2Ku system installed on few of its flights. Speaking about the development, IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said: "We believe this will be the best Wi-Fi on international flights anywhere. This will be exactly as if you're connected to Wi-Fi in your house. We'll be able to have everybody on board using multiple devices and we're going to get speeds that are similar to you being at home."
"That's why we wanted this. There's nothing more frustrating than if you're a passenger and you're told it's there but you're sitting there waiting for your screen to refresh. It just becomes more irritating than not having it and some of the early technology we just felt was not something we could offer our customers and convince them that it was going to work consistently," Walsh added.
IAG is not the only airline to have inked a deal with Gogo. Delta Air Lines, which owns 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic – apart from a few other airlines – too has signed a similar deal with Gogo.