Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. (GEE) (Nasdaq:ENT) (“GEE,” “Global Eagle” or the “Company”), a worldwide provider of end-to-end connectivity and media to the airline, maritime and remote mobility markets, today announced that it received a vendor Supplemental Type Certificate (vSTC) from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (“CAAC”) to install GEE’s Airconnect Global Satellite Connectivity System on Boeing 737 Next Generation (“B737NG”) aircraft in China. The Airconnect product is GEE’s satellite-based broadband internet connectivity system.
GEE is the first major aircraft satellite connectivity service provider to receive CAAC approval on the Boeing 737 platform, representing a critical milestone for aviation connectivity development in China. GEE has pursued a long-term growth program in China, including the following: establishment of a Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise (WFOE) and GEE’s China Technology Center; local engineering and software development teams; innovative and new revenue generating services that meet local regulations; partnerships with Chinese media and advertising firms; and establishment of multiple teleports with leading Chinese telecommunications partners.
The B737 is the backbone of Chinese air networks, with over 1,000 Chinese-registered B737 in service and an additional 500 on order. Today, the B737 accounts for more than 40 percent of all passenger aircraft operated by airlines based in China. In 2016, GEE received CAAC approval for Boeing 777 installations and commenced an inflight connectivity and entertainment commercial trial under license from the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. With this new CAAC-approved 737NG vSTC, GEE is able to expand to fleet operations with all Chinese B777 and B737NG operators. CAAC approval also facilitates installations of GEE’s Airconnect product on HNA Group’s Hainan Airlines and Yangtze Airlines as part of GEE’s joint venture with Beijing Shareco, once that JV launches.
“Approval of Airconnect for installation on B737NG’s represents a critical milestone for GEE’s expansion in the rapidly growing China market,” said Joshua Marks, Executive Vice President of Aviation at GEE. “B737NGs are the most popular aircraft operated by Chinese passenger airlines. With the approval of our Airconnect satellite-based connectivity system, GEE is well-positioned to accelerate access to its high quality in-flight connectivity across the Chinese market by supporting the 737 in both retrofit and linefit configurations.”
“We are thrilled about the new opportunities for GEE to work closely with our Chinese partners to provide passengers with superior IFEC solutions,” said Jeff Leddy, Chief Executive Officer of GEE. “GEE is also pursuing vSTC authority for Airbus 320s, which account for an additional 30% of the Chinese commercial aviation market. These CAAC approvals enable us to act quickly in the Chinese market and accelerate our product deployments in the region.”
GEE’s Airconnect system transforms the flying experience with broadband connectivity, available live streaming of Chinese-language television stations, video-on-demand with Hollywood and Chinese content, games, advertiser-sponsored content, destination guides and moving maps. GEE’s Airconnect product is the first in China to offer full-cabin television streaming and joint advertising.
Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. (NASDAQ:ENT) is a leading provider of satellite-based connectivity and media to fast-growing, global mobility markets across air, sea and land. Supported by proprietary and best-in-class technologies, GEE offers a fully integrated suite of rich media content and seamless connectivity solutions that cover the globe. With approximately 1,500 employees and 50 offices on six continents, GEE delivers exceptional service and rapid support to a diverse base of customers around the world. Find out more at: www.geemedia.com.
Cautionary Note Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
This release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements regarding our expansion in the Chinese commercial aviation market, our ability to successfully negotiate, finalize and launch our Beijing Shareco joint venture, our ability to obtain vSTC authority for Airbus 320s and other aircraft in China and our business initiatives and business outlook. These forward-looking statements are based on information available to us as of the date of this release and on our current expectations, forecasts and assumptions, and involve substantial risks and uncertainties. Actual results may vary materially from those expressed or implied by the forward looking statements herein due to a variety of factors, including: our ability to successfully transition the chief executive and chief financial officer roles; our ability to negotiate and consummate the Shareco joint venture transaction and associated investment on the contemplated terms and realize the benefits therefrom; the impact of any regulatory reviews regarding the Company’s expansion of business operations in China (including the vSTC process) and the proposed Shareco joint venture; uncertainties as to the future operating and financial condition of the Shareco joint venture; the impact of any changes in general economic and market conditions; and other risks and uncertainties set forth in our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequently filed Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q.
Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date the statements are made. You should not put undue reliance on any forward-looking statements. We assume no obligation to update forward-looking statements except to the extent required by applicable securities laws. If we do update one or more forward-looking statements, no inference should be drawn that we will make additional updates with respect to those or other forward-looking statements.