WestJet to Offer Bell ExpressVu Seatback Satellite Television Onboard Next-Generation 737-700 Aircraft
CALGARY, Alberta. July 8, 2003. WestJet, Canada's low-fare airline, LiveTV, a wholly-owned subsidiary of JetBlue Airways Corporation, and Bell ExpressVu, Canada's leading direct-to-home satellite TV company, today announced that WestJet guests will in the near future be able to enjoy 24 channels of live Bell ExpressVu satellite programming in every seatback of the airline's state-of-the-art Next-Generation Boeing 737-700 aircraft.
The agreement signed between WestJet and LiveTV is for a thirteen-year term, terminable thereafter on six months notice by either party. The agreement is for installation on 40 aircraft with the option to install the system on future aircraft deliveries as requested. LiveTV is contracted to provide and maintain its satellite receiving equipment onboard the aircraft. WestJet will purchase the seat equipment and monitors and lease the satellite receiving equipment.
WestJet has also signed a letter of intent with Bell ExpressVu to provide satellite programming for the new service for which WestJet will pay a service fee. WestJet and Bell ExpressVu will also jointly market and promote the service. The obligations of the parties under the agreements are subject to the satisfaction of specified conditions, including definitive documents to be negotiated and finalized with Bell ExpressVu within the next 45 days.
The airline currently plans to offer the entertainment service to its guests free of charge until all of its 700-series aircraft are configured. WestJet will review whether to charge a nominal fee for guests to use the system once the entire fleet is equipped.
Installation of the equipment on WestJet's fleet of 737-700 series aircraft is expected to commence in the fourth quarter of 2003 and will be completed by the first quarter of 2004. The airline expects to have 28 Boeing 737-700 series aircraft in its fleet at that time.
WestJet's seatback satellite programming from Bell ExpressVu will offer a selection of Bell ExpressVu's 300-plus channels including news, sports, children's and leisure programming that can be individually selected by the guest.
Clive Beddoe, WestJet's President and CEO, said today: "We're excited to be able to bring this innovative live satellite television programming to our guests through these agreements with LiveTV and Bell ExpressVu. We have been monitoring for some time the attractiveness of this product on JetBlue and have been very impressed with their results, both from a reliability perspective and from the enthusiasm in which the public has embraced this product.
"As we continue to increase the length of our flights across Canada, we recognize the importance of offering additional services for our long-haul guests, and we're pleased to be the first airline in Canada to offer live, satellite television."
"WestJet's decision to provide our satellite TV service to their guests flying across the country is another example of the flexibility and reach of Bell ExpressVu's advanced satellite technology," said Timothy E. McGee, Bell ExpressVu President. "Our wide selection of programming, crystal-clear all digital picture and superior customer service have made us the number one choice among Canadians for digital and satellite television. Bell ExpressVu is proud to be on board with WestJet."
The inflight system features a true real-time, at-home entertainment experience in the air and includes individual adjustable seat-back screens, personal headphones and a control for channel, brightness, and volume mounted on the armrests.
"We're excited to welcome WestJet to LiveTV's growing customer base of low-fare, low-cost airlines," said David Neeleman, Executive Chairman and CEO of JetBlue Airways. "With this agreement, WestJet is once again demonstrating its commitment to offering Canadian travellers innovative, high quality air travel."
WestJet serves the 26 Canadian cities of Victoria, Comox, Vancouver, Abbotsford/Fraser Valley, Prince George, Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, London, Ottawa, Hamilton, Toronto, Windsor, Montreal, Moncton, Halifax, Gander and St. John's. WestJet is publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol WJA.
With more than 1.3 million customers, Bell ExpressVu is Canada's leader in digital home entertainment and broadcasts more than 300 digital video and audio channels. Bell ExpressVu was launched in September 1997 and since then has become the largest direct-to-home satellite company in Canada. Bell ExpressVu is part of the BCE Group of companies.
LiveTV is an innovative provider of in-flight entertainment products and services such as DIRECTV AIRBORNE(TM), XM Satellite Radio, wireless aircraft data link services, cabin surveillance systems and Internet services for commercial aircraft. LiveTV is a wholly owned subsidiary of JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ JBLU).