Alaska Airlines will offer “streaming fast” Wi-Fi on its E175 fleet, beginning in 2024. The carrier plans to upgrade those aircraft, extending its longstanding partnership with Intelsat. Ultimately, Alaska Airlines aims to deliver a consistent passenger internet experience across the fleet.
Bringing a streaming-fast satellite Wi-Fi solution to our regional jets is another key investment in modernizing our fleet, emphasizing innovation and taking care of our guests’ changing needs.– Sangita Woerner, SVP Marketing and Guest Experience, Alaska Airlines
The new solution represents Intelsat’s first customer to use the newly developed Electronically Steered Antenna (ESA) solution, developed in partnership with Stellar Blu and using Ball Aerospace ESA components. That hardware is understood to be in airborne testing today by Intelsat, in advance of certification anticipated later this year.
This also makes Alaska Airlines the first to commit to Intelsat’s new hybrid satellite offering, delivered in partnership with OneWeb‘s low earth orbit constellation of satellites and Intelsat’s Geostationary satellites.
Installations are expected to begin on the Horizon Air E175 fleet in early 2024. The rollout process, including the SkyWest-operated planes, aims to complete within two years, delivering streaming speeds to the carrier’s entire fleet by 2026.
Intelsat and Alaska Airlines promise gate-to-gate connectivity on the E-Jet fleet as the new service goes live.
The upgrade also means removing those aircraft from the Gogo air-to-ground network. Intelsat executives have been clear that they expect to see most of the regional jets they manage migrate off that service in the near future.
Alaska Airlines is the first of the North American regionals to commit to an upgraded inflight internet service offering. And while it is a relatively smaller fleet than that of Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines, or Air Canada, it is still a notable milestone for the industry. RFPs for the other carriers have been open for some time now; more commitments are expected in the months ahead.
This is not, however, the first ESA or LEO service to connect aircraft online. JSX is more than halfway through fitting its entire fleet with the SpaceX Starlink solution and aims to finish in Q1 2023. Hawaiian Airlines expects to begin its installations of the SpaceX Starlink solution later this year as well.
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