The carrier, which already offers Inmarsat Wi-Fi on international services, will test the technology on a domestic A320 family jet and an ATR in late 2024, with a broader launch in 2025 pending a successful trial run of four to six months.
According to Air New Zealand chief digital officer Nikhil Ravishankar, the partnership will enable reliable high-speed internet on domestic flights with latency as low as 30ms.
“We’re always looking at how new and innovative technology can deliver improved customer experiences and with the world’s largest satellite constellation, exploring in-motion connectivity on our aircraft with Starlink was a no-brainer,” said Ravishankar.
Customers during the initial trial period will be advised if their domestic flight is Wi-Fi enabled. If the trial is successful, customers will then be informed via the carrier’s app.
Qantas began its own domestic Wi-Fi service in 2017 using ViaSat and the NBN’s Sky Muster satellites, with some international flights also offering Wi-Fi starting this year. However, the connection is only available while flying over Australia and within Sky Muster’s coverage area.
The Flying Kangaroo plans to make Wi-Fi available on its Project Sunrise flights upon their launch in 2025, making use of the ViaSat-3 constellation that will comprise three satellites, each covering one-third of the Earth’s surface. Qantas has noted that many of its existing long-range aircraft will also be upgraded to support satellite Wi-Fi.
Virgin Australia and Rex have since launched their own in-flight Wi-Fi services, while Bonza has Wi-Fi connectivity only for its own entertainment and menu offerings.
The news followed recent deals between Starlink and both Optus and Telstra that will bring voice and data services to regional areas.
The Optus deal is uniquely “straight-to-mobile”, meaning it will not require customers to obtain any specific hardware and will instead work on all compatible handsets.
Currently, the telco’s traditional service is unavailable across 60 per cent of Australia’s landmass, but the new tie-up will boost connectivity to almost 100 per cent.
Meanwhile, Telstra’s separate deal with Starlink means it will be able to offer home phone service and Starlink broadband to Aussies as a bundle offer, as well as local tech support and professional installation.
Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.
Receive the latest developments and updates on Australia’s space industry direct to your inbox. Subscribe today to Space Connect here.