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British Airways to offer wi-fi on short-haul flights from summer 2017

Friday, November 4th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

British Airways is to introduce high-speed wi-fi on short-haul flights from next summer, its owner has confirmed.

International Airlines Group (IAG) struck a deal with satellite telecoms firm Inmarsat to install wireless connectivity on 341 short-haul aircraft.

That includes 132 British Airways, 125 Vueling, 45 Iberia and 39 Aer Lingus planes.

The service will be provided by Inmarsat’s European Aviation Network (EAN), which uses a combination of satellite coverage and a 4G LTE ground network to provide connectivity both in-flight and in busy airports.

IAG said passengers will have enough bandwidth to use multiple devices at the same time and that connection speeds for users would be “similar to what they have at home”.

Willie Walsh, IAG’s chief executive, said: “We are giving our customers the fastest connectivity you can get on any aircraft.

“Having announced wi-fi for long-haul flights earlier this year we are now equipping our airlines’ short-haul fleets with in-flight broadband access.

“Connectivity is essential because it's what our customers demand and IAG will be the first European airline group to offer high-quality air to ground wi-fi on short-haul flights.”

Leo Mondale, president of Inmarsat Aviation, said the EAN is a “game changer” millions of airline passengers.

“It will provide IAG airlines with unprecedented high-speed capacity by combining the strengths of Inmarsat's satellite connectivity with a powerful ground network operated by our partner Deutsche Telekom.

“We look forward to working with Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling on the rollout.”

'Silence is golden'

A survey carried out by Inmarsat last year found that eight in 10 European airline passengers would use in-flight broadband if they could.

The poll of 6,000 people found that 67% of passengers would even be willing to pay for the service.

But despite the relaxation of rules on the use of mobile devices on planes, passengers are still opposed to the idea of making calls during a flight.

Both the International Airline Passengers Association (IAPA) and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) told Cable.co.uk their members were against making calls during flights.

A GBTA spokesperson said: “We speak on behalf of the business travel industry as a survey of our US members showed 97% are against this. Sometimes silence is golden.”

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