Gogo has scored its first airline customer for transoceanic inflight Internet service after inking a major deal with Delta Air Lines to fit the carrier’s long-haul international fleet of 150 aircraft with Ku-band satellite-supported connectivity systems.
The carrier’s long-haul fleet includes Boeing 777, 767, 747, Airbus 330 and transoceanic Boeing 757 aircraft. Gogo and Delta are looking to offer the service in early 2013.
Delta already operates the world’s largest Wi-Fi-equipped fleet of aircraft with more than 3,000 flights daily, including its entire fleet of 550 domestic mainline aircraft. More than 800 Delta aircraft, including all Delta Connection two-class regional jets, are equipped with air-to-ground (ATG)-based in-flight Wi-Fi service in the domestic United States.
When Ku-band connectivity installations are complete in 2015, Delta will operate approximately 1,000 Wi-Fi-equipped aircraft in its worldwide fleet.
“This is obviously an historic announcement for Gogo as a company as it represents our first international connectivity partner. Delta has been a great partner for Gogo in the US and we’re pleased they have selected us to launch their international service. Having Gogo on their international fleet means that passengers will be able to stay connected while travelling in the US and around the globe,” Gogo president and CEO Michael Small tells the APEX editor’s blog.
“As a company, we believe Gogo has presented Delta a distinct advantage for global services. Passengers aboard Delta will now have one point of access for account service and access to 24/7 customer service in air, on the ground and around the globe. From an airline perspective, Gogo plans to provide installation service for numerous connectivity technologies, customer billing support and bandwidth management, making Gogo a truly turnkey in-flight connectivity and in-flight digital entertainment provider for commercial airline operators around the world.”
In the past several weeks, Gogo has made several announcements that highlight its progress on deploying a Ku-band satellite solution for international connectivity services, including inking deals with satellite operator SES and antenna maker Aerosat. While Gogo will be using Ku-band satellite service as the connectivity solution for Delta’s international service, the company feels it’s “less about the technology that’s being used and more about finding the right technology for each aircraft and each aircraft’s mission – whether that’s by using our exclusive air to ground and ATG-4 technologies, Ku-satellite or, in the future, Inmarsat’s Global Xpress Ka-satellite technologies”, says Small.
This sentiment represents a departure for Gogo, which has long touted ATG for US domestic carriers and global Ka-band for international service. But Inmarsat’s Global Xpress service – of which Gogo will be a distribution partner - is not expected to be fully available until 2015, and many carriers want the ability to offer connectivity on high-traffic transatlantic flights before 2015.
“Ultimately, we feel that what differentiates us is the fact that we’re a service provider first,” says Small. “As a leader in in-flight connectivity and a pioneer in wireless in-flight digital entertainment solutions, we’ve used multiple technologies to install connectivity enabled solutions on more than 1,500 commercial aircraft and more than 6,000 business jets, including satellite solutions. Through our experiences we have solved countless problems as we’ve scaled this complex business. We look forward to utilizing that expertise in providing service to Delta and its customers on their international service.”
The expansion of in-flight Wi-Fi to Delta’s transoceanic fleet is the latest in the airline’s more than $3 billion investment in enhanced global products, services and airport facilities through 2013.