AA internal memo ....
We gotta fever and the only prescription is more bandwidth
Our customers want fast internet service. They want to stream movies, music and games. And, they want to use their own phones, laptops and tablets. We’re going to deliver.
We have reached agreements to begin installing satellite-based Wi-Fi on our entire narrowbody fleet. Satellite systems provide so much potential for bandwidth that virtually every customer on a plane can stream a movie at the same time.
To provide a ground-like internet experience as fast as possible, we’ll be using multiple providers to equip our planes. ViaSat will install its satellite systems on our first Boeing 737 MAX in late 2017. We have 100 of these planes on the way, and they’ll be equipped with the amenities that our customers value most, including Boeing’s new Space Bins, which hold 50% more carry-on bags.
Gogo will install its 2Ku satellite system on nearly 140 legacy US Airways A319s and A320s. The A320s will get satellite service starting in late 2017 and A319s will start installations no later than 2018.
Panasonic will continue to provide internet and entertainment services on our widebodies, giving customers the opportunity to watch live TV
, including this week’s NBA Finals.
We are still evaluating which provider will install their system on the remaining narrowbodies. Gogo’s air-to-ground systems will remain onboard the MD80s, select 757s and our two-class regional jets.
Having multiple providers will speed up the installation schedule and ensure that we’re diversifying our suppliers to keep costs competitive. We will work with ViaSat, Gogo and Panasonic so our customers understand which Wi-Fi options are available on their flights, and we’re working with them to provide a more seamless experience across the entire fleet.
As of today, American offers more Wi-Fi enabled aircraft than any airline in the world. With all of our two-class regional jets now equipped with Wi-Fi, we have 1,114 aircraft where customers can log on to the internet during flight.
We’re excited about expanding satellite-based Wi-Fi service, and we look forward to delivering more streaming content than ever before.
Questions and answers
Q: Does this mean we’re not going to have Gogo on our aircraft?
A: No. Gogo has been American’s provider of inflight Wi-Fi since 2008, and we’ve agreed to have them install their 2Ku satellite-based system on more than 130 A319 and A320 aircraft. We also will continue to work with Gogo to provide air-to-ground (ATG) service on our two-class regional fleet and some of our mainline narrowbody aircraft until their scheduled retirements.
Q: Won’t having three different Wi-Fi providers make it more complicated for customers?
Having multiple providers will actually speed up the installation schedule and ensure that we’re diversifying our suppliers. We will work with ViaSat, Gogo and Panasonic so our customers understand which Wi-Fi options are available on their flights. We are working with all of our vendors to improve our customer-service options and provide a more seamless login and user experience.
Q: What if a customer has a subscription service for Gogo? Will they be able to use it on ViaSat and Panasonic systems?
A: It will be at least 12 months before we install ViaSat hardware on our aircraft, and Panasonic systems are already in place today. When we have finalized a plan for subscription services, we will inform our customers of the transition so they understand how their Wi-Fi options may differ depending on the aircraft being operated.
Q: Isn’t it going to be expensive to install new technology on all of our aircraft?
A: We’re working with ViaSat and Gogo to determine the cost of installation, maintenance and service. We’re committed to providing the best product available to our customers and a good return for our investors. We believe better connectivity will make us more competitive for customers who are increasingly selecting flights based on Wi-Fi and entertainment options.
Q: How long will it take for us to switch to a satellite connectivity system?
A: American expects initial aircraft for both new and retrofit systems to be delivered before the end of 2017. It will take several years to perform all of the installations and avoid operational disruptions.
Q: Which aircraft will have Gogo, ViaSat and Panasonic?
A: We will put satellite-based systems on all narrowbodies that are not scheduled for retirement, and we are looking at all of our options to do that. We have identified the supplier for a good portion of the total fleet, while discussions continue for assigning the remainder of the narrowbodies. Here’s where things stand today:
ViaSat Ka-Band system – 100 Boeing 737 MAX
Gogo’s 2Ku system – 134 Legacy US A319 and A320
Panasonic – 777-300ER, 777-200ER retrofits, with plans for 767 and A330 fleet
Gogo ATG/ATG4 – All two-class regional jets and existing narrowbodies scheduled for retirement
Q: Does this mean flights to Hawaii and the Caribbean will have Wi-Fi?
A: Yes. If a route is served with a mainline narrowbody jet, once the satellite-based system is installed, customers will have access to satellite Wi-Fi service. We are working with Gogo and ViaSat to provide coverage for all of the markets that our narrowbody fly. Panasonic systems already cover the routes that our widebodies fly across the Atlantic and Pacific and to South America. We’ll be adding more Wi-Fi to the A330, 767 fleets starting this summer. The A350 widebodies will be delivered with Wi-Fi installed in 2017.