Australian airlines Qantas announced that it will introduce “fast, free in-flight Wi-fi” in its domestic flights. The airline management on Tuesday promised that the on-board Internet service will have the best download speeds.
Qantas said its customers will get internet speeds that are 10 times faster than the conventional Wi-fi. The airline will be partnering with ViaSat for its high speed in-flight Wi-fi services.
“Bringing high-speed Wi-fi to the domestic aviation market has been an ambition of ours for a long time and we now have access to the right technology to make it happen,” Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said, reports News Corp. He also announced the airline’s plan of share buyback worth $500 million.
Qantas’s free Wi-fi means customers can stream movies, TV shows, news bulletins and live sport on domestic flights. However, the trials will start only in late 2016. For the trials, a Qantas Boeing 737 plane will be retrofitted with the equipment for high-speed Wi-fi.
The full Wi-fi roll-out across all Qantas domestic fleet of A330s and B737s will be complete by early 2017. Qantas is also examining options to expand high-speed Wi-fi in its international and regional flights.
The CEO said the size of the Australian landmass had been posing challenges on in-flight connectivity. But the recent launch of NBN’s satellite was a game changer and opened up new opportunities.
For the Wi-fi roll out, Qantas has partnered with communication provider ViaSat. Under the deal, ViaSat will deliver internet connectivity to Qantas’ aircraft, Ka-band satellite and ground stations.
ViaSat’s chairman and CEO Mark Dankberg said his company would offer speeds upto 20 Mbps per passenger, reports Zdnet.
Meanwhile, Qantas announced the half-year results for the six months ended on December 31, 2015. It clocked profit after tax at $921 million. It marked an impressive gain over the $554 million in terms of profit at 1H15.