EL AL Israel Airlines announced it officially launched its new fast, reliable commercial in-flight Wi-Fi service, powered by global communications company, Viasat.
EL AL was Viasat’s European launch customer. Since first announcing their relationship, both companies undertook broad market studies focused on in-flight Wi-Fi passenger demand, engagement and service offerings, including a customer beta phase to determine internet package types. EL AL also began to re-energize its fleet taking on new Boeing 787 Dreamliners—a recent addition to Viasat’s certified platforms.
As of today, 15 EL AL aircraft have been outfitted with Viasat’s latest equipment, providing high-speed connectivity to EL AL’s mix of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, Boeing 737-900 aircraft and Boeing 737-800 planes. By mid-2020, EL AL expects to have the majority of its fleet connected with the Viasat service.
First high-speed Wi-Fi flight
Earlier this week, EL AL held its “inaugural high-speed Wi-Fi service flight,” which flew from Tel Aviv to Paris on one of its new Dreamliner aircraft. There were 128 devices connected—many that were streaming movies, videos, music and even the World Cup semifinal. More than half of the passengers were filming and streaming videos—some via Facebook Live, while others were capturing and uploading videos and pictures of their journey, which they posted to multiple social media sites from Facebook and Instagram to Twitter.
“Israeli passengers want to keep up-to-date and connected in real-time even when in the air,” said Nimrod Borovitz, director, Strategy and Business Development at EL AL Israel Airlines. “We invested in the most advanced in-flight Wi-Fi product from Viasat so that we could best respond to our customers' interests, from surfing sites, connecting to emails, using apps, viewing social-media networks, listening to music and streaming movies and live sports during flights. EL AL chose Viasat’s in-flight Wi-Fi system because they had the most advanced product.”
Viasat is recognized as one of the world leaders in satellite communications and a leading in-flight service provider. The Company’s in-flight Wi-Fi system will offer passengers the highest-speed Ka-band connection, which gives EL AL passengers the ability to stream more internet content - faster, as well as keep flight crews connected for enhanced passenger service. When flying on TransAtlantic routes, the system will connect to the ViaSat-2 satellite, which has the most Ka-band capacity over the Atlantic Ocean, giving passengers a high performing internet connection from across North America and the Atlantic Ocean to Europe. Specific to European flights, the Viasat service will connect to the KA-SAT satellite through its European joint venture with Eutelsat, which offers more capacity over Europe than any other communications satellite.
“EL AL’s high-speed connected fleet continues to raise the bar in passenger engagement, pilot and crew service quality and airline technology innovation,” said Don Buchman, vice president and general manager, Commercial Aviation at Viasat. “Our in-flight internet service gives EL AL passengers an enriched flight experience—with access to online capabilities that matter most to them—just about anywhere EL AL flies.”
EL AL will offer three internet service packages:
Basic: Passengers can use their smartphones and tablets for instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp, to access email and browse EL AL's free sites. The package is free during the launch period.
Social: This package builds on the Basic plan, letting passengers use their smartphones and tablets to access instant messaging applications, email, free site browsing and for viewing short videos of up to three minutes. This package cost per passenger per flight is $9.99, with discounted rates for Matmid Frequent Flyers and FLYCARD holders.
Business: This premium plan lets passengers use their smartphones, tablets and laptops for instant messaging, email and free site browsing. Unlike the other plans, users of the Business package gain additional connectivity capabilities, including streaming movies, music and more as well as VPN access. Package cost per passenger per flight is $19.99, also with discounted rates for Matmid Frequent Flyers and FLYCARD holders.
During the introductory trial period for international flights from Europe to North America, EL AL will offer the service free of charge until the fourth quarter of 2018.