Latvian airline airBaltic has announced plans to equip its entire Airbus A220 fleet with SpaceX’s Starlink internet system. This will give all passengers free access to high-speed WiFi on all airBaltic flights. Let’s take a closer look below.
airBaltic fleet will offer Starlink internet
The airline will be the first in Europe to provide free in-flight Wi-Fi through SpaceX’s highly popular Starlink system. airBaltic is actively working with SpaceX to obtain the necessary supplemental type certificate (STC) and is expected to start installing the system on its entire Airbus A220-300 fleet this year.
“AirBaltic” CEO Martin Gauss said.
“This is a historic moment for our airline and the industry as a whole. Soon, airBaltic will be the first airline in Europe to launch high-speed, unlimited and free satellite internet. We are delighted to find the right connectivity provider that meets our needs and desires – SpaceX’s Starlink. The most on the market having a modern aircraft type, it was the next logical step for airBaltic to implement the most modern available in-flight internet solution in this fleet.”
According to airBaltic, every passenger flying on every airBaltic flight will be able to use the Internet in flight for free through Starlink.without hassles or login pages,” adding, “Passengers will have access to the Internet from the moment they board the plane.” This will be a huge investment for the airline, given that the Starlink hardware costs $150,000 per aircraft – with its current fleet of 39 Airbus A220s, the airline could pay around $6 million for the equipment alone.
High speed Starlink connection
As Simple Flying reported in October, SpaceX’s Starlink Aviation service will be fully rolled out to customers this year, and the aerospace company plans to deliver the first batch of equipment by mid-2023. The system will work by lasering WiFi into planes to provide passengers with the internet speeds you expect with a fiber optic home connection.
As explained by airBaltic, “Starlink can deliver up to 350 Mbps and latency of up to 20ms to aircraft.,” enabling data-intensive online activities such as online gaming and high-definition streaming that previously couldn’t be achieved via in-flight WiFi. During a test flight with charter carrier JSX in September, Starlink delivered 100mbs of in-flight WiFi, though remember that’s just it. Commercial 12 passengers used the service, not the 200-300 passengers you expect on the flight.
Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX’s vice president of Starlink Sales, added:
“With Starlink’s high-speed, low-latency internet, airBaltic passengers will have internet similar to or better than what they have at home. Customers will walk around the plane and the internet will just work, eliminating the stress of login pages and large downloads. Pre-flight paperwork is a thing of the past.”
SpaceX first announced plans to connect the planes to Starlink in a March 2021 filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The technology has drawn interest from a number of airlines, including Delta Air Lines, which is in talks and testing with SpaceX, as well as Hawaiian Airlines, which has signed a deal to offer free Starlink internet on flights.
Will free WiFi become the norm?
Delta Air Lines announced last week via satellite partner Viasat that it plans to offer free Wi-Fi on about 80% of its domestic flights — a move that will “power on” more than 700 of its planes by the end of 2023, according to Space News. With Delta’s international fleet.
Photo: Delta Air Lines
US counterpart JetBlue has also started providing passengers with free in-flight Wi-Fi – other airlines offering free Wi-Fi include Qantas, Air New Zealand and Hainan Airlines. If the convenience catches on with customers, expect other major airlines to follow suit as passengers get used to easy internet connectivity at 30,000 feet.
Are you looking forward to Starlink’s new aviation internet service? Do you think free WiFi will become the industry norm in a few years? Let us know in the comments.
Source: Space News
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Hybrid carrier
- Riga International Airport
- Year of creation:
- Martin Gauss