Turkish Airlines is seeing very strong take rates for its airborne high-speed Internet service, with as many as one third of passengers accessing the service on certain Boeing 777-300ER flights. Wi-Fi is being offered for free to passengers for an introductory period.
The Star Alliance member also reveals it is experiencing some coverage-related “teething problems” with its inflight television service.
Istanbul-headquartered Turkish Airlines in September 2011 became the first carrier in the world to take delivery of a 777-300ER equipped at the Boeing factory with Panasonic Avionics’ Ku-band satellite-supported Global Communications Suite (GCS). The carrier also holds the distinction of being the first commercial airline to activate Panasonic’s eXTV live television service.
At the same time, in another first, passengers were given the opportunity to access their ‘Miles&Smiles’ frequent-flyer accounts using portals in the seat-back inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) systems. Through the portal, called PLANET, passengers also have the ability to provide online feedback about their flight via a ‘customer service” function.
Turkish Airlines CEO, Dr. Temel Kotil, tells the APEX editor’s blog that three aircraft are flying with the Global Communications Suite “with nine more Boeing 777-300ERs to be similarly equipped before the end of 2012. GCS will also be installed on our Airbus A330-300s, beginning this summer, with plans to rapidly modify all 10 aircraft”.
Asked to describe how the system is performing, Temel says: “The high speed Wi-Fi service is operating as expected on western routes where there is full coverage and we’ve received much positive feedback from passengers. Currently, during the introductory period, the service is offered to passengers free of charge and we show very high usage numbers, especially for daytime 777-300ER flights – over 100 sessions per flight.
“On the TV side, we’re offering BBC World, BBC Arabic and Euronews (with both Turkish and English audio), and despite some minor problems related to coverage this aspect of the service is also doing well.”
He adds: “We believe the coverage issues are just teething problems and will be resolved very soon.”
Panasonic has been working to expand Ku-band satellite coverage across the globe. The company recently inked several key deals with satellite operators, and is planning to launch a next generation global Ku network in 2015.
A Panasonic spokesman says: “We are seeing an increasing demand for our eXTV service, and our goal is to make the services available on customer routes as quickly as possible.
“Today, we are able to provide uninterrupted service on flights between Europe and the North America, but clearly there are some regions where the service is not yet available. As evidenced with our recent announcements about adding capacity on Itelsat-14 and GE23, and with our efforts on an enhanced Ku aeronautical network, we are accelerating the deployment of the service to all regions.”