AirAsia‘s inflight wifi upgrade is finally underway. First announced in April 2017, the first planes are now equipped with the GX Aviation solution from Inmarsat, with integration provided by ROKKI, a partner company of the airline group. The companies expect to deliver the high-speed inflight connectivity solution to the the carrier’s full fleet of A320 and A330 family planes in the coming year. As part of the new product launch passengers on the GX-equipped planes can connect for free until the end of the month.
The service integrates with the airline’s entertainment and e-commerce platform, allowing passengers to access a variety of free entertainment, music, games, news and shopping using their personal mobile devices, in addition to a paid internet solution. The carrier previously installed the slower SwiftBroadband solution on a number of aircraft. As part of the contract those planes are expected to be upgraded, in addition to new planes fitted with the Ka-band GX solution.
As the pioneer of LCC inflight Wi-Fi in the region, we are always looking for ways to redefine the inflight digital experience for our guests. Introducing Ka-band, powered by ROKKI, is the next logical step in this process, with the enhanced inflight connectivity allowing our guests to stay connected throughout their journey and perform data-intensive activities such as live-streaming. This also enables better real-time analytics, allowing us to offer more personalised services to AirAsia’s 100 million guests annually.– Aireen Omar, AirAsia Group President (RedBeat Ventures)
While the company is highlighting the ability of the solution to support “data-intensive activities such as streaming” the pricing packages are likely to discourage passengers from such. The company is sticking with megabyte-based packages for the service, though it does provide some hints on what the different packages can be reasonably used for. Given the relatively short stage lengths of the A320 family fleet the numbers might hold up, though sending or receiving just a couple photos in a chat app will likely blow the 10MB allowance.
AirAsia’s launch of GX Aviation services is a significant milestone, as it brings to life the airline’s bold and innovative new digital offering for passengers. We are confident that their upgrade from basic connectivity to the industry’s gold standard inflight broadband will be warmly embraced by passengers. Our teams continue to work closely together to install GX Aviation on the rest of AirAsia’s fleet of Airbus A320 and A330 aircraft, making it available to millions of new passengers each month.– Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation
AirAsia is the latest airline to launch commercial service with GX Aviation, joining ANA, Aircalin, Ethiopian Airlines and Vietnam Airlines in activating the service in recent weeks, plus SAS announcing its A350 fleet will carry the kit. Between the new activations and the several recent announcements of new satellite payloads the company appears to be strongly positioned to continue its growth in the inflight connectivity space, even with the recently collapsed Garuda/Citilink deal.