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Air Canada to bring Wi-Fi to North America flights

Air Canada to bring Wi-Fi to North America flights 

Air Canada announced plans today to make Wi-Fi available on its North American flights. It plans to begin rolling out connectivity in May, under an agreement with US company Gogo.

The price that passengers will have to pay for the service has yet to be released. According to Air Canada, the pricing will be competitive with other in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity offerings.

“Air Canada continually seeks to enhance the travel experience and that is why we are pleased to be the first airline in Canada to offer in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity to customers flying over continental North America,” said Benjamin Smith, executive vice-president and CCO. “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.”

Air Canada currently has two Wi-Fi-equipped Airbus 319 planes operating in Canada and the US. Subject to final agreement with Gogo, Air Canada plans to outfit the remainder of its narrow body planes.

The installations are set to begin in May. The goal is to equip 29 aircrafts this year with Air-to-Ground Wi-Fi connectivity, with a targeted completion date of December 2015 for the designated 130 narrow-body aircraft.

The list of planes receiving Wi-Fi includes the Airbus 319, A320, A321, the Embraer 190 aircraft and the smaller jets Air Canada Express CRJ-705 and Embraer 175.

Air Canada says the system will offer connection speeds comparable to mobile broadband services available on the ground. And for those worried about chatty seatmates, current regulations prevent using cell phones to make calls while up in the air.

Gogo has also provided Air Canada with the opportunity to pilot two satellite-based systems, using Gogo 2KU and Inmarsat GlobalXpress KA-band solutions. These tests are expected to be conducted in 2015. Their results will help determine future connectivity options that can be considered as the technology evolves.

For those taking longer flights, Air Canada says the agreement includes future testing of Gogo’s satellite solutions for Wi-Fi on international flights. Air Canada competitor West Jet announced in February plans to include a new entertainment system on flights that allows passengers to access the Internet.

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