SpaceX Signs Deal with Hawaiian Airlines for Inflight Wi-Fi
SpaceX plans to start providing its Starlink internet on Hawaiian Airlines flights as soon as next year, according to a statement from the airline reported by CNBC.
The Starlink service would be complimentary, and some think it could push other airlines to start offering free Wi-Fi on flights — a service already offered by JetBlue and one that has been talked about in the past by Delta CEO Ed Bastian.
Hawaiian Airlines plans to begin installing Starlink terminals on its planes next year, though they’re still working on testing the service.
The company is also in need of some certifications before it can deploy the feature, according to Hawaiian Airlines Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Avi Mannis.
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In a statement, Mannis noted, “certification issues that need to be worked through before we’re ready to operate the product.” Mannis added, “But we’re confident that there’s a path forward for that.”
The airline’s many flight routes throughout the Pacific Ocean make connectivity particularly difficult, making Starlink’s satellite internet a perfect solution for the company.
The company’s Airbus A330 and A321neo aircraft, plus incoming fleet of Boeing 787-9s will get equipped with Starlink. Boeing 717 aircraft used for short flights between islands are not planned to get Starlink, said the airline.
“When we launch with Starlink we will have the best connectivity experience available in the air,” said Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram, in a statement. “We waited until technology caught up with our high standards for guest experience, but it will be worth the wait. Our guests can look forward to fast, seamless and free Wi-Fi to complement our award-winning onboard Hawaiian hospitality.”
“Hawaiian Airlines is ensuring its passengers will experience high-speed internet the way we expect it in the 21st century, making hassles like downloading movies before takeoff a relic of the past,” said SpaceX Vice President of Starlink Commercial Sales Jonathan Hofeller, in a statement. “With Starlink, the inflight experience is greatly simplified so that once passengers step onboard the plane the internet works seamlessly throughout their flight. Soon, passengers will enjoy all the benefits of having the world’s best inflight internet connectivity from the comfort of their seats.”
The news also comes just a couple of months after SpaceX announced Starlink on commercial airlines was its priority, even while testing the internet on Gulfstream jets.