Now that airlines are getting serious about providing Internet access via Wi-Fi aboard airplanes, they’re also in a race to get it first.
AirTran announced Tuesday it will have Wi-Fi broadband access on its entire fleet of 136 airplanes by mid-summer, using the Gogo system offered by Aircell.
Said Bob Fornaro, AirTran chairman, president and CEO:
“Giving business and leisure travelers a consistent, high-quality experience at a low price is a top priority. We feel that Wi-Fi on every flight gives us a distinct competitive advantage over other airlines. Our passengers will know with confidence that no matter which flight they are on, the airplane cabin will be their mobile office, social network, online mall or whatever they want it to be.”
And Aircell president and CEO Jack Blumenstein said:
“Now that Gogo is here and available, passenger demand has taken off, exceeding even our own expectations.”
Only a day earlier, Delta Air Lines announced it had installed Wi-Fi on 139 of its jets. That’s three more than AirTran’s entire fleet but less than half of Delta’s domestic fleet of more than 300 airplanes.
Said Delta: “Delta offers more Wi-Fi onboard than any airline worldwide.”
Delta said it expects to have all its domestic airplanes Wi-Fi’ed by September. That doesn’t include the 200 or so Northwest Airlines aircraft, which are to get similarly equipped by sometime in 2010.
Like AirTran, Delta is using the Gogo system, as is American Airlines. American announced in March that it would have the Wi-Fi equipment on at least 150 domestic airplanes this year and more than 300 by the end of 2010.
American is putting the equipment on 150 MD-80s in 2009, and already had it on 15 Boeing 767-200s that are flying transcontinental routes. In addition, the equipment will go on American’s Boeing 737-800s.
Says Tim Loecker, American spokesman:
“In April, the company announced the expansion of its relationship with Gogo and plans to install 318 aircraft which fly primarily domestic routes with the service. The installation schedule includes 150 MD80 aircraft and 153 B737s – this is roughly 50 percent of American’s entire fleet.
“Since our April announcement, American has installed nearly 20 MD80s with plans to complete the 150 schedule aircraft by the end of 2009. In addition, American is working to install the service on the new B737s this year with plans to install on the current B737s beginning next year.”