Italian leisure carrier Neos is the latest carrier to choose an inflight wifi connectivity solution. The carrier picked Viasat‘s Ka-band system to operate on the 787 Dreamliner fleet. The hardware is installed today on the trio of aircraft and is expected to activate for passengers soon. Details on pricing plans or a specific launch date remain elusive.
Viasat has a reputation for delivering superior, highly-reliable in-flight internet experiences—and we are happy to provide this level of service to all Neos guests today and well into the future. We’re excited about Viasat’s global communications roadmap—as we’ll have access to the world’s most advanced satellite systems to help realize our goal: to deploy fully connected capabilities across our entire modernized fleet. – Carlo Stradiotti, CEO, Neos
The airline is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alpitour, frequently operating flights to deliver passengers to and from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. With the new connectivity system active the 359 passengers on the company’s trio of 787-9 aircraft will have access to wifi as they fly to the company’s Caribbean destinations. Viasat will use capacity from its ViaSat-2 and jointly owned (with Eutelsat) Ka-SAT satellite to deliver service across the Atlantic and into the Caribbean.
Future growth of Viasat’s satellite network will eventually support connectivity for destinations in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Connectivity on those routes depends on successful launch and activation of the ViaSat-3 EMEA satellite. That launch is slated for mid to late 2020. Activation for aero customers will take several months from that time (ViaSat-2 remains in “advanced beta” mode for select aero customers more than a year after its launch).
It is also worth considering that many of the Caribbean routes today fly a more southerly path, keeping them outside the ViaSat-2 coverage area for the longer portion of the Atlantic crossing.
From a passenger satisfaction perspective the carrier may find that it is better off not advertising the service than marketing around it, only to have many flights out of coverage for half or more of the trip. Viasat is confident that it can “service the Caribbean flights today and grow into the partnership as ViaSat-3 comes online.”
The Neos implementation includes a custom portal development as well.
We’re driven to meet our airline partners’ current and future connectivity needs by bringing proven, scalable communications technology to their fleets. In working with Neos, we recognized their interest to bring a best-in-class and reliable in-flight internet experience to every passenger—with fast in-flight web browsing and rich online media streaming. We’re confident that our system’s superior capacity, consistency and growing reach will meet Neos’ long-term in-flight connectivity requirements. – Don Buchman, vice president and general manager, Commercial Aviation at Viasat.
The Neos vendor selection process dates back to at least early 2017, when the company saw pitches from multiple inflight wifi providers. At that time Panasonic Avionics and Viasat were the finalists.
Future coverage of the carrier’s routes into East Africa, especially with high speed capacity, appears to have been a key factor in the decision process. PAC was unwilling to commit to that growth while the ViaSat-3 constellation does promise the coverage boost in the next few years.