Spicejet took delivery of its first 737 MAX aircraft today, ushering in an era of growth and modernization for the carrier’s fleet. The aircraft also include Inmarsat‘s Global Xpress (GX) inflight wifi connectivity solution on board. The kit remains inactive, pending regulatory approval but multiple carriers now sit poised to connect passengers once that moment arrives.
Not only will the new Spicejet planes carry the GX kit, but it intends for connectivity to be free to passengers. Company Chief Ajay Singh believes that the ad-supported approach will be a “differentiating feature for the airline” in the highly competitive domestic Indian aviation market.
Singh highlighted the annoyances of the payment process as part of the justification for choosing the free approach. Even where passengers are willing to pay he believes they are “deterred by the clunkiness of the payment process,” resulting in a lower level of satisfaction with the product quality.
Competing with Spicejet in the connected aircraft space, Jet Airways holds a contract with Global Eagle to install connectivity on board once regulators relent. That contract covers the existing 737 NG fleet for Jet plus the first tranche of 737 MAX aircraft. It is unclear if Spicejet intends to retrofit its older planes with the GX system. Still, with the hardware already installed, Spicejet holds a strong position in the race to be first online in India.
SpiceJet has 205 MAX on order, including another nine due this year.