Vistara confirmed its intentions to be the first Indian airline offering inflight WiFi connectivity. The service will launch on its 787 fleet, with the first aircraft scheduled for delivery in the coming weeks. Panasonic Avionics (PAC) will supply the integration services with Nelco delivering the satellite capacity and ground station services. The announcement confirms reports from December and January suggesting that the deal was secured.
As Vistara inches closer to launching long-haul international operations and becomes a global brand, our steadfast effort is to provide a truly world-class service to our customers to and from India. Our partnership with Panasonic in providing a state-of-the-art IFE system and satellite connectivity is a step in that direction, and we are confident that it will further elevate the five-star flying experience that Vistara is renowned for.– Vinod Kannan, Chief Commercial Officer, Vistara
The on-board solution will include the AeroMobile kit, allowing mobile phone users to roam on to the inflight hotspot rather than purchasing a new subscription separately for the connectivity service. Historically these roaming deals have been significantly more expensive than a direct subscription but also much easier for users. Some cell service providers are now bundling or discounting the rates to make them more compelling. Pricing and service plan details for the new offering on Vistara remain in development.
The service is also expected to be active on Vistara’s A321neo fleet when those deliveries begin.
A new Nelco partnership
The PAC inflight connectivity solution runs under Nelco’s Department of Telecommunications license for In-Flight and Maritime Connectivity (IFMC), in accordance with the Flight and Maritime Rules. As a result of this agreement, Panasonic, and its subsidiary ITC Global, now offer connectivity to both aircraft and maritime vessels operating within India. The system will take advantage of ISRO’s GSAT 14 satellite Ku-band capacity to deliver service over India. As the planes fly further afield they will benefit from Panasonic’s global Ku-band network of leased capacity.
We are delighted that Nelco is spearheading in providing the long awaited Aero IFC services in the country, marking the beginning of a new chapter in passenger services for the aviation sector in India. We are also very happy that we have forged the partnership with Panasonic Avionics in serving their customers. We foresee a great opportunity for growth in the IFC services in the country in the coming years and intend to be a leader in this market.– NELCO Managing Director and CEO, P J Nath
First mover advantage?
The move positions PAC as the first company to bring inflight WiFi to an Indian airline. It jumps ahead of Global Eagle and Inmarsat, providers that previously announced partner carriers but which have not yet turned on their services for differing reasons. Global Eagle’s launch airline partner was Jet Airways, now grounded and unlikely to resume operations anytime soon. Inmarsat’s GX Aviation network will power the SpiceJet fleet as it comes online but the 737 MAX grounding delayed that service launch. Inmarsat will also power the AirAsia India fleet of A320s and the installation for those planes is ongoing. Activating the AirAsia planes requires the ground infrastructure to be online for the GX satellites. That work is delayed from prior expectations but remains in progress.
PAC CEO Ken Sain celebrated the announcement and first mover milestone, noting “We are delighted to be partnering with Nelco, and are proud to offer our valued customers the ability to change the way people stay connected in flight, at sea and in remote locations around the world.”
Indeed, while PAC was not the first to announce plans with an airline customer in India it will be the first to deliver. Maybe being the first mover isn’t always an advantageous position.