American Airlines will take the Viasat Ka-band inflight connectivity solution on its A321neo fleet when deliveries begin in 2019. The 100-aircraft deal was secured in recent weeks and announced by Viasat as part of its quarterly earnings release this afternoon. The A321neo aircraft will carry the same “Gen 2” hardware as the rest of the American Airlines/Viasat aircraft.
The deal will stretch well into the next decade as American is slowing deliveries of the A321neo aircraft. AA will take 17 A321neos in 2019, 15 in 2020, 18 in 2021 and 20 in 2022 per the updated guidance provided late last month. Another 30 are now slated for delivery in 2023 and beyond.
Extending the deal with American is a nice vote of confidence in the Viasat service and the early performance quality of the product. It also comes on the heels of Gogo CEO Oakleigh Thorne publicly lambasting his company’s contracts with American Airlines this week.
"Airline directed works for us when it is done on the right terms. In the case of American it wasn't done on the right terms." – @GOGOCEO adding more color to just how bad a deal for $GOGO the AA #2Ku deal is. #PaxEx
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) August 8, 2018
Viasat shows 757 aircraft installed with Ka-band connectivity as of the end of Q1 plus 854 installs in the backlog. This additional 100 plane deal brings the total installed and pending count for the company just over 1700 frames. That is an incredibly strong position in the satellite connectivity space.
Separately, the company also suggested eight airlines are now flying some aircraft with the Gen 2 hardware on board. This newer kit allows for use of the ViaSat-2 satellite’s expanded coverage and capacity, including service in the Caribbean and across the North Atlantic. While ViaSat-2 is not enabled for aviation services yet the company confirmed that test flights in those new coverage areas took place during the previous quarter. Expect the network to be available on aircraft with the Gen 2 hardware later this year.