International Airlines Group has today confirmed that WiFi will be rolled out across the short-haul and long-haul aircraft of its airlines: Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling.
To date, IAG airlines have adopted a piecemeal approach to WiFi. BA has WiFi on just one Boeing 747. Aer Lingus has WiFi on its transatlantic Airbus A330s. Iberia and Vueling also have WiFi on some aircraft.
On short-haul aircraft IAG is expected to adopt an Inmarsat “Air To Ground” system which should deliver fast internet access speeds. The first aircraft will be in service by 2017.
On long-haul aircraft, new deliveries of Airbus A330 (to Aer Lingus & Iberia), Airbus A350 (to British Airways and Iberia) and Boeing 787-10 (to British Airways) are expected to be fitted with WiFi.
IAG will also aim to retrofit 100 long-haul aircraft (primarily British Airways aircraft) with WiFi. IAG will target rolling out WiFi to 90% of long-haul aircraft by 2019.
The fit-out of WiFi on long-haul aircraft is likely to be subject to IAG being satisfied that the technology is sufficiently robust for the global long-haul networks of BA and Iberia and the cost of retrofitting aircraft makes the investment worthwhile
IAG has not yet indicated what pricing model it will adopt for WiFi, which is likely to vary by airline.
As well as providing passengers with in flight internet access and the opportunity for new In Flight Entertainment services, it will be interesting to see what customer service initiatives will arise as consequence of equipping cabin crews will in flight internet access.