Taiwanese carrier China Airlines recently introduced into service its first Airbus A321neo aircraft offering passengers with Inmarsat’s GX Aviation inflight broadband powered by SITA ‘s Internet ONAIR solution.
The aircraft flew its inaugural flight between Taoyuan and Hong Kong with passengers enjoying the high-speed Wi-Fi to seamlessly browse the internet, stream video and audio, and play games among other things.
“The fact that this is our second new airline customer announcement with SITA in recent months is testament to our successful partnership, despite the challenges that Covid-19 has presented to the aviation industry over the past two years,” said Niels Steenstrup, Inmarsat Aviation’s senior vice president of inflight connectivity business.
China Airlines has ordered a total of 25 Airbus A321neos as part of a narrow-body fleet replacement programme that aims to transform its onboard experience, support its regional network expansion and meet long-term growth in passenger volumes.
All of the aircraft will be equipped with Inmarsat’s GX Aviation and SITA’s Internet ONAIR, alongside other new cabin features such as fully-flat seats in Premium Business Class, the latest inflight entertainment system, and 4K high-solution displays.
Inmarsat‘s latest Passenger Confidence Tracker, the largest global survey of its kind since the pandemic began, found that 41% of the 10,000+ respondents believe having Wi-Fi on flights is even more important now than before Covid-19, allowing them to stay connected with friends and family, and supporting a touch-free environment.
According to Katrina Korzenowski, Asia Pacific vice president at SITA FOR AIRCRAFT, providing a digital and touchless onboard experience will be the key to increasing passenger confidence as air travel recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our Internet ONAIR technology, coupled with Inmarsat’s GX Aviation connectivity, offers China Airlines the perfect blueprint for a world-class inflight broadband offering onboard its Airbus A321neo aircraft and we’re proud to be working together to achieve this. It also means that SITA is now providing a full suite of services, from cockpit to cabin, to China Airlines.”
GX Aviation is powered by Global Xpress (GX) broadband network, which provides infight connectivity on par with mobile Wi-Fi on the ground.
The GX network currently consists of five Ka-band satellites and will be further enhanced with the addition of seven more satellites as part of Inmarsat's fully-funded technology roadmap. This includes two Inmarsat-6s, both of which are scheduled to enter service next year.
They will be followed by three additional satellites in geostationary orbit - adding speed, capacity and resilience - and two in highly elliptical orbit, enabling the world’s only commercial mobile broadband service for aircraft flying in higher elevations and across the Arctic.