Etihad Airways today reached a major milestone with the deployment of mobile and internet connectivity across its entire fleet of 24 Boeing 777 passenger aircraft. With the completion of this, the airline is now only a few months off having it’s entire fleet of 89 aircraft connected making it the first major international airline to offer this service and one of only three in the world.
The full suite of inflight connectivity services on the fleet of A320s, A330s, A340s and 777s includes Wi-Fi, mobile services and Live TV. The services combine the “Etihad Wi-Fly” solution, powered by the Panasonic Avionics Global Communications Suite, and OnAir’s inflight connectivity solution.
Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: “We are a global market leader in terms of onboard connectivity solutions. We believe that onboard connectivity is an important competitive differentiator for our guests and are continuously introducing new communications technology to enhance their travel experience.” He continues, “The roll out of our state-of-the-art connectivity solution will give our modern connected guests a seamless, robust experience at 35,000 feet, similar to what they expect at home or work.”
Currently the only airlines to offer Wi-Fi across their entire fleet are Mango Airlines in Africa and Virgin America in the United States. It is worth mentioning that Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Norwegian also have connectivity across the majority of their fleet with the exceptions of a few aircraft operating on a small handful of routes.
Guests will be able to enjoy high-speed broadband services on Wi-Fi enabled devices including smartphones, tablets and laptops, allowing them to surf the internet, update social media, purchase gifts, upgrade seats, change travel plans and much more, all from the comfort of their seat. The mobile connectivity service can also be accessed by guests using their mobile phones and smartphones to make and receive phone-calls, send and receive text messages and emails, and use mobile data services. This unique service can only be accessed however by paying a small fee on top of the ticket price. Packages to access the internet start at US$5 and can be purchased using credit cards, PayPal and a range of other convenient payment methods. Mobile telephone usage will be billed by the guest’s mobile service providers based on the international roaming rates levied by the service providers.
Cabin crew and flight deck operations will also be encourgaed to utilise Wi-Fi connections to handle medical emergencies. The crew is empowered to manage inflight guest issues by phone or email in real-time with the airline’s ground teams based in Abu Dhabi. Connectivity is also paving the way for the airline to enhance the guest experience through increased onboard retail opportunities, with the added benefit of real-time credit card transactions.
Etihad also offers a Live TV onboard service allows guests to watch live news and major sporting events on seven popular television channels including BBC World News, CNBC, CNN, euronews, Japan’s NHK World Premium, Sky News Arabia, and Sport 24.
Read more about Etihad’s exceptional in flight product and safety rating here