SpaceX launches Starlink satellites to Low Earth Orbit on a weekly basis to expand broadband coverage globally. To date, the company operates around 2,200 satellites and it already beams internet service to over 250,000 customers living across 29 countries and has over half-a-million service pre-orders it is in the process fulfilling. SpaceX’s goal is to provide high-speed internet with low-latency anywhere on the planet.
On Monday, April 25, Hawaiian Airlines announced it will become the first major airline to provide free SpaceX Starlink Wi-Fi for passengers. The airline will equip its Airbus A330 and A321neo aircraft, as well as an incoming fleet of Boeing 787-9s, with Starlink terminals to access the satellite constellation during transpacific flights next year. Hawaiian Airlines currently does not provide any Wi-Fi service during flights because they have not found a reliable network that serves flights over the Pacific Ocean.
“When we launch with Starlink we will have the best connectivity experience available in the air,” said Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram. “We waited until technology caught up with our high standards for guest experience, but it will be worth the wait. Our guests can look forward to fast, seamless and free Wi-Fi to complement our award-winning onboard Hawaiian hospitality.”
“Hawaiian Airlines is ensuring its passengers will experience high-speed internet the way we expect it in the 21st century, making hassles like downloading movies before takeoff a relic of the past,” said SpaceX Vice President of Starlink Commercial Sales Jonathan Hofeller. “With Starlink, the inflight experience is greatly simplified so that once passengers step onboard the plane the internet works seamlessly throughout their flight. Soon, passengers will enjoy all the benefits of having the world’s best inflight internet connectivity from the comfort of their seats.”
In November 2021, Hofeller participated in a panel discussion at the Airline Passenger Experience Association where he shared that the company was already testing it with several aircraft. “We have our own aviation product in development […] we’ve already done some demonstrations to date, and looking to get that product finalized to be put on aircraft in the very near future,” he said. The Starlink antenna used aboard airplanes will feature technology similar to its consumer terminals “with obvious enhancements for aviation connectivity,” according to Hofeller.
The Hawaiian Airlines announcement comes after Delta Airlines told reporters it is performing “exploratory testing” of the Starlink internet technology and JSX charter airline announced it will equip 100 airplanes with SpaceX Starlink terminals.
Featured Image Source: Hawaiian Airlines