with China Airlines bringing them Airbus A321neo into commercial service, the aircraft has another feature that has been announced – connectivity in the air, powered by SITA ONAIR and Inmarsat’s GX Aviation†
China Airlines’ first Airbus A321neo has now entered commercial service. As well as the passenger experience changes aboard (including Stelia Aerospace premium seating) their aircraft is fitted with Inmarsat’s high-speed GX Aviation inflight Wi-Fi, allowing passengers to seamlessly browse the internet, stream video and audio, shop online and catch up with work, all from the comfort of their seat.
According to Inmarsat, GX Aviation proved a hit during the inaugural flight from Taoyuan to Hong Kong, with access provided via the SITA’s ONAIR product. The GX network currently consists of five Ka-band satellites and will be further enhanced with the addition of seven more satellites (made up of two Inmarsat-6s satellites, three more geostationary satellites and two in a highly elliptical orbit to enable commercial mobile broadband service for aircraft flying in higher elevations and across the Arctic).
China Airlines has ordered a total of 25 Airbus A321neos as part of a narrow-body fleet replacement programme. All of the aircraft will be equipped with Inmarsat’s GX Aviation and SITA’s Internet ONAIR, alongside other new cabin features such as fully-flat seats in Premium Business Class, the latest inflight entertainment system, and 4K high-solution displays
Niels Steenstrup, Inmarsat Aviation’s Senior Vice President of Inflight Connectivity Business, said:
“We are delighted to welcome China Airlines as our latest GX Aviation inflight broadband customer, especially at a time when the carrier is welcoming millions of its passengers back to the skies. The fact that this is our second new airline customer announcement with SITA in recent months is testament to our successful partnership and also reinforces strong demand for our market-leading connectivity, despite the challenges that Covid-19 has presented to the aviation industry over the past two years.”
Katrina Korzenowski, Asia Pacific Vice President at SITA FOR AIRCRAFT, added
“Providing a digital and touchless onboard experience will be the key to increasing passenger confidence as air travel recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. Our Internet ONAIR technology, coupled with Inmarsat’s GX Aviation connectivity, offers China Airlines the perfect blueprint for a world-class inflight broadband offering onboard its Airbus A321neo aircraft and we’re proud to be working together to achieve this. It also means that SITA is now providing a full suite of services, from cockpit to cabin, to China Airlines.”
High Demand Exists
It seems that passenger demand for inflight connectivity isn’t going anywhere according to Inmarsat which runs a Passenger Confidence Tracker.
In its survey, it found that 41% of the 10,000+ respondents believe having Wi-Fi on flights is even more important now than before Covid-19, allowing them to stay connected with friends and family, and supporting a touch-free environment.
This of course is balanced out by the cost of such a service. China Airlines will offer free text messaging is available for 7 apps including Line, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, Apple iMessage, WhatsApp, Viber and Line2.
Other internet access options that passengers can pay for via credit card or redeem in full with their membership miles are include streaming multimedia, browsing the web and catching up on their favorite shows via their mobile devices while in-flight.
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