JetSuiteX sees spectacular passenger satisfaction scores, but one small gap in the offering: Inflight wifi connectivity is not available on the carrier’s Embraer 135 fleet. That will change in Q4 2019 as the company rolls out the SmartSky ATG connectivity solution across its aircraft. The companies announced the deal at APEX TECH this morning in Los Angeles.
After a rigorous selection process including my personal inflight evaluation, we chose SmartSky’s state-of-the-art, high-speed technology because it delivers the most compelling user experience. Through our partnership, JetSuiteX will once again disrupt the status quo, this time by enabling our customers to stay just as productive while in flight as they are on the ground. Not only does this underscore our commitment to providing the most innovative air travel solution in the industry, it allows our customers to empty their inbox or share as many #jetsuitex selfies as they wish while still in the air!– JetSuiteX CEO Alex Wilcox
The company expects to deliver the connectivity for free to passengers, similar to its offering on the smaller JetSuite light jet charter operation. For those flights Wilcox knows that the company is charging thousands of dollars per hour of usage and sees the incremental wifi cost as “a little crass” to add on top. Passengers on the JetSuiteX product also pay a premium for the private-like service but not quite as much more as the charter passengers do. Wilcox plans to “Put it out there for free” to start but also has concerns that the service might be too good.
“It is so damn fast and so good that I’m a little concerned that we might have to meter usage” because the consumption could increase the company’s operating costs. Wilcox continued, “If it costs me $10 per passenger to deliver that streaming content that’s $5mm off the bottom line; I can’t afford to do that.”
SmartSky intends to launch service in early 2019 with a focus on the East Coast market and expanding between New York and Chicago later in the year. The JetSuiteX deal means following up on those deployments quickly with west coast coverage. The business aviation segment that drove early sales for SmartSky can fly pretty much anywhere, creating more challenges for the network rollout process. With JetSuiteX, however, the network coverage needs are very different.
Speaking with PaxEx.Aero on the sidelines of the APEX TECH event SmartSky Chief Commercial Officer Nancy Walker highlighted the value of a tightly focused cluster of network towers on the deployment roadmap:
JetSuiteX is a perfect partner for us. We’ve been trying to lay down coverage in contiguous corridors. The JetSuiteX flight patterns are on corridors and in a relatively compact, contained area.-SmartSky CCO Nancy Walker
Similar to the east coast’s north-south corridor the JetSuiteX market is primarily north-south on the west coast, stretching in to Las Vegas, paralleling the Chicago stretch on the east coast. With those two large markets mostly covered by the end of 2019 SmartSky will be well positioned to finalize national coverage and drive real revenue from the network.