El Al in-flight connectivity option takes off with Viasat partnership
13 July 2018 | James Pearce
Satellite operator ViaSat has partnered with Israeli airline El Al to launch an in-flight wifi system that will be offered across the majority of its fleet.
Demand for connectivity whilst flying is on the up, according to El Al, which is why it is deploying Viasat’s in-flight connectivity solution across 15 of its aircraft.
El Al, which was Viasat’s European launch customer, will add in-flight connectivity as an option in its mix of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, Boeing 737-900 aircraft and Boeing 737-800 planes. By mid-2020, EL AL expects to have the majority of its fleet connected with the Viasat service.
El Al’s inaugural flight offering wifi flew from Tel Aviv to Paris earlier this week, with 128 devices connected, giving customers the ability to stream the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup, along with movies, music and videos. More than half of the customers were filming and live-streaming videos, according to El Al.
The service will be offered for free during an introductory trial period, which is due to last until the fourth quarter of 2018.
“Israeli passengers want to keep up-to-date and connected in real-time even when in the air,” said Nimrod Borovitz, director, Strategy and Business Development at EL AL Israel Airlines.
“We invested in the most advanced in-flight Wi-Fi product from Viasat so that we could best respond to our customers' interests, from surfing sites, connecting to emails, using apps, viewing social-media networks, listening to music and streaming movies and live sports during flights. EL AL chose Viasat’s in-flight Wi-Fi system because they had the most advanced product.”
For the flight, Viasat provided connectivity through its ViaSat-2 satellite, which offers Ka-band capacity over the Atlantic Ocean. It also uses its KA-SAT satellite, launched as part of a joint venture with Eutelsat.
“EL AL’s high-speed connected fleet continues to raise the bar in passenger engagement, pilot and crew service quality and airline technology innovation,” said Don Buchman, vice president and general manager, Commercial Aviation at Viasat.
“Our in-flight internet service gives EL AL passengers an enriched flight experience—with access to online capabilities that matter most to them—just about anywhere EL AL flies.”
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