International Airlines Group (IAG) will introduce high speed inflight Wi-Fi across its airlines' shorthaul fleets having reached agreement with Inmarsat to be the launch customer of its next generation European air to ground connectivity.
Up to 341 shorthaul aircraft will be fitted with Inmarsat's next generation connectivity services to provide a 4G broadband network, giving customers the internet access they expect on the ground while in the air. These include 132 British Airways, 125 Vueling, 45 Iberia and 39 Aer Lingus A320 family aircraft.
Inmarsat's latest technology will offer customers broadband internet access on their own mobile devices to use email, check social media and stream videos. Passengers will have bandwidth capacity to use multiple devices at the same time and connection speeds will be similar to what they have at home.
Willie Walsh, IAG's chief executive, said: "We are giving our customers the fastest connectivity you can get on any aircraft. Having announced Wi-Fi for longhaul flights earlier this year we are now equipping our airlines' shorthaul fleets with inflight broadband access. Connectivity is essential because it's what our customers demand and IAG will be the first European airline group to offer high-quality air to ground Wi-Fi on shorthaul flights."
Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: "The European Aviation Network is a game changer for the millions of airline passengers that have been cut-off from fast, reliable and consistent broadband access during flights in Europe. It will provide IAG airlines with unprecedented high-speed capacity by combining the strengths of Inmarsat's satellite connectivity with a powerful ground network operated by our partner Deutsche Telekom. We look forward to working with Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling on the rollout."
The first shorthaul aircraft equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity – a British Airways A321- will be in service next summer. Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling aircraft will follow later in 2017.
By 2019, 90 per cent of IAG airlines' fleets will be fitted with high quality connectivity.