Qatar Airways will modernize the inflight connectivity offering on its 787 and A380 aircraft under a new deal with Gogo. The contract covers 70 aircraft currently flying with the SwiftBroadband service on board. In addition to the high speed 2Ku connectivity the deal calls for live television to be included on the planes, improving the available services for those subfleets.
Having access to the internet, and being connected and available is critical for passengers, and the demand for bandwidth will only increase. We are proud to be able to provide our customers with an excellent connectivity experience with Gogo 2Ku.– Group Chief Executive His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker
The news also means that Qatar Airways will continue to operate with a mixed service provider arrangement. The carrier’s A350s and 777s carry the GX Aviation solution from Inmarsat. It also remains to be seen if the 2Ku connectivity costs are subsidized for passengers by Qatari mobile phone company Oredoo the way they are on the GX platform.
Service on the Qatar Airways planes is expected to go live in 2020. For the A380s that could mean on in-service period as short as four years. The airline expects to begin retiring those planes from service in 2024. While the capital costs to fit the planes are significant the carrier clearly believes that offering strong and consistent inflight wifi performance for those passengers is worth the up front costs.
Timing of the announcement could be seen as a small blow to the launch of Inmarsat’s GX5 satellite scheduled for later this week. Designed to massive increase Ka-band capacity on the Europe to Asia routes via the Middle East, GX5 is essentially built to serve Emirates and Qatar Airways and their significant committed contracts on the Inmarsat platform. Having one of those two announce a contract for 70 aircraft with Gogo as the launch looms is not great optics.