EL AL will add inflight wifi connectivity to its 777 fleet. The carrier announced today an expansion of its partnership with Viasat to extend the service fleet-wide. Currently Viasat powers connectivity on the airline’s 787 and 737s. The wifi installation is part of an overall upgrade to the 777s, first announced in April of this year.
We have a vision to serve our passengers and crew members with high-speed, reliable, enriching experiences when flying to and from major global destinations. We’ve enjoyed a partnership with Viasat, and are excited to have all of our aircraft supported by ViaSat-3—as we believe this will help us realize our vision to make our fleet fully connected. Our ongoing in-flight Wi-Fi investments will enable over time the more than 5 million passengers we fly annually to enjoy the internet how it’s supposed to be: great, engaging and available.– Nimrod Borovitz, vice president, Strategy and Business Development at EL AL Israel Airlines
Today’s deal sees 6 frames added to the backlog. The companies expect to have “the majority” of the fleet online by the end of 2020.
Building for the future and ViaSat-3
The bulk of EL AL’s 777s fly routes today are covered by the Ka-SAT and ViaSat-2 satellites. This includes the flights to Europe and North America. For the carrier’s Asia and Africa trips, however, the Viasat Ka-band satellite network comes up short today. EL AL is not worried about that coverage gap, however. The carrier is looking to the future as it installs the new hardware.
Viasat announced a partnership with ChinaSat earlier this year that could deliver roaming coverage for a small portion of flights to and from China. That blossoming relationship suffered a minor setback in August when the newest Ka-band satellite for the region failed in orbit. Viasat is confident in the capacity available today to bring the partnership online, though how it will scale with new airline deals remains unclear.
For EL AL the big payoff will come as the ViaSat-3 constellation of satellites takes flight. The full constellation is expected online by 2023ish, leaving EL AL a bit of a wait for the Asia routes, but not so much that it makes sense to hold off on installing the hardware today. EL AL’s willingness to commit now to the ViaSat-3 network to deliver Asia coverage sits counter to moves made by another otherwise satisfied Viasat customer, SAS. That carrier chose the Inmarsat GX Aviation solution for its A350 fleet, knowing that the Asia coverage would not be available for a few years after the planes enter service.
As the additional capacity comes online EL AL will be able to take advantage of the lower costs and increased throughput opportunity. Expect an updated launch schedule for the ViaSat-3 constellation on Thursday as part of Viasat’s quarterly earnings announcement.
Today, EL AL offers three in-flight Wi-Fi packages—Basic, Social and Business—which can be purchased during the flight through the EL AL Wi-Fi portal via credit card or EL AL Matmid Club points