The aircraft type will be new to the fleet, but JetBlue‘s A220s will have some familiar touches on board. Among them, the inflight WiFi connectivity will be delivered by Viasat. And it will continue to be free to passengers.
Since launching Fly-Fi, JetBlue has set the pace for how airlines should offer in-flight entertainment and internet services to customers. We’re creating powerful, engaging onboard experiences with our Viasat-powered Fly-Fi service. Our new agreement with Viasat is a strong endorsement to their ongoing commitment to technology advancement, which we believe will help us continue to deliver great experiences to our customers—no matter where they fly with us.– Mariya Stoyanova, director, product development, JetBlue
The A220-300 fleet will be fitted with the newest generation of Viasat hardware when deliveries begin, expected in 2020. The new kit supports the entire portfolio of Viasat satellites, including forward compatibility with the ViaSat-3 class spacecraft, expected to launch beginning in late 2020 or early 2021. The Viasat coverage footprint currently covers nearly all of JetBlue’s flights.
The long-term relationship between the two companies took flight in late 2013 as JetBlue’s Fly-Fi service switched on. The offering continues to receive awards for its service quality and JetBlue continues to differentiate its on-board product as the only carrier delivering complimentary streaming-class wifi for all passengers on board. The nature of this relationship is not lost on either party. Viasat’s Don Buchman, VP & General Manager for Commercial Aviation notes, “[T]hroughout the years we have maintained a shared goal: to keep the end-customer front and center by delivering a state-of-the-art connectivity system that would offer a home-like internet experience in the air. With our current and future satellite fleet, we are ready to serve JetBlue as they broaden their plans within the Americas and across to Europe.”
As airlines add new aircraft types, either to their fleet in general or just to their connectivity plans, the opportunity to bid new vendors arises. In many cases that results in a mixed fleet solution for the airlines, based on cost and performance of the network. That JetBlue continues to pursue a single supplier solution is a testament to the quality of the product, the pricing and the support the carrier receives in the relationship.
It is worth noting that some of the Viasat-equipped A320s and all of the E190s also include integration services from Thales. The A320s are migrating away from that as part of the cabin refresh program and the E190s are being retired outright. Eventually the relationship will be fully and truly between Viasat and JetBlue.