Air Canada finally announces Wi-Fi plan; taps Gogo

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Air Canada executives made use of the Gogo inflight connectivity service on one of its two Gogo-equipped Airbus A319s to finally announce to the world that it plans to roll out the air-to-ground (ATG)-supported system across its North American fleet starting in May.

The deal represents a major win for Gogo in Canada, after it lost the bid to provide Canadian low-cost carrier WestJet with connectivity; WestJet chose the Panasonic Avionics eXConnect service instead. It also comes after much deliberation from Air Canada, which has flown its two Gogo-equipped A319s for years.

Subject to a final agreement with Gogo, Air Canada says it also expects to test Gogo’s satellite solutions for Wi-Fi on international flights. The carrier wants to trial both Gogo’s novel new 2Ku global connectivity offering as well as Inmarsat’s Global Xpress Ka-band service (of which Gogo is a service distributor) beginning in 2015. The results will help determine future connectivity options that can be considered as the technology continues to evolve.

“In today’s connected world, our customers want to access email, mobile device applications and the internet wherever they are, both to increase their work productivity and expand their leisure options,” says Air Canada executive VP and chief commercial officer Benjamin Smith.

Air Canada’s fleet of Airbus A319, A320 and A321 and Embraer 190 fleet types – as well as its Air Canada Express CRJ-705 and Embraer 175 aircraft – will be equipped with ATG. The installations are to begin in May with the goal of equipping 29 aircraft in 2014 and a targeted completion date of December 2015 for the designated 130 narrow-body aircraft.

Air Canada has not announced pricing, but says it will “be competitive with other in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity offerings”.

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