Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite business has penned a deal with Hawaiian Airlines to provide inflight WiFi on the carrier’s fleet of Airbus A330 and A321neo aircraft and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. Hawaiian said it would offer the high-speed, low-latency broadband service for free once it is installed across the fleet.
A division of Musk’s SpaceX program, the Starlink system promises high-speed broadband service via a ‘constellation’ of more than 2,000 satellites in low Earth orbit. Starlink was specifically designed to provide broadband service to remote regions with limited access to the internet.
“When we launch with Starlink we will have the best connectivity experience available in the air,” boasted Hawaiian Airlines chief executive Peter Ingram on Monday. “We waited until technology caught up with our high standards for guest experience, but it will be worth the wait,” Ingram continued.
So confident are both Starlink and Hawaiian Airlines in the technology, that the airline intends to offer streaming quality inflight internet access to every single passenger for free. Other airlines normally restrict free inflight internet access to limited messaging apps or rein in users with data caps to free up bandwidth and reduce costs.
“With Starlink, the inflight experience is greatly simplified so that once passengers step onboard the plane the internet works seamlessly throughout their flight,” commented SpaceX Vice President of Starlink Commercial Sales Jonathan Hofeller.
Hawaiian Airlines is the first carrier to have signed up to the Starlink service but the company is in talks with other airlines including Delta as it seeks to win market share from incumbents like Panasonic and Viasat.
Along with being able to stream movies and shows to their devices, Hawaiian also claims the service will be so fast that passengers will be able to play video games with their friends on the ground in real-time.
Hawaiian’s long-haul route network across the Pacific will be a real test for the Starlink service.
There are no plans to install inflight connectivity on Hawaiian’s fleet of Boeing 717 aircraft which are used for short hops between Hawaii’s islands.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.