Aviation

Virgin winning Wi-Fi race despite financial loss

Virgin Australia has come out swinging with this news of inflight Wi-Fi rollouts, despite reporting a $3.7 million loss before tax for the 2017 financial year.

The airline has big ambitions to take its wireless internet to the majority of its domestic and international aircrafts by the second half of 2019, becoming the only Australian airline to offer Wi-Fi internationally.

Virgin recently tried to one-up Qantas with its Wi-Fi plans, as its rival suffered a few false starts before nailing the inflight trial.

Following the successful trial on a Boeing 737, the airline is now rolling out inflight Wi-Fi to its Boeing 737 aircraft, with Boeing 777 aircraft to commence in October.

By the end of 2018, Virgin Australia expects to have inflight Wi-Fi on all Boeing 777 aircraft and the majority of Boeing 737 aircraft, with the Airbus A330 aircraft due for completion by the second half of 2019.

Virgin Australia Group CEO John Borghetti said, “We want to provide the world’s most rewarding travel experience and we know that enabling our guests to remain connected while flying is central to that.

“Therefore we’re pleased to announce our rollout plans for inflight Wi-Fi today, which will see more than 90 per cent of Virgin Australia’s fleet fitted with this technology.

“Virgin Australia will offer a base level of free Wi-Fi to all of our guests on domestic flights and become the only Australian airline to offer Wi-Fi on international flights.

“We’ve chosen to partner with leading inflight connectivity provider Gogo, who deliver inflight Wi-Fi to airlines around the world including Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic, and British Airways.

“Through our partnership with Gogo and Optus Satellite, we will have access to the largest fleet of satellites servicing Australia and New Zealand, providing our guests with a fast and reliable Wi-Fi experience on board,” Borghetti added.

Gogo President and CEO Michael Small said, “We are delighted to work with Virgin Australia to bring the leading global in-flight connectivity solution to their passengers.

“Gogo’s 2Ku technology allows passengers to stay connected anywhere these aircraft fly – gate-to-gate – with an internet experience they’re used to experiencing on the ground, including the ability to stream videos.”

The three-month Boeing 737 aircraft trial saw 77 per cent of guests report a high level of satisfaction with the inflight Wi-Fi. The trial found the following insights on passengers’ Wi-Fi usage:

 ✈     49 per cent checked email

✈     43 per cent checked social media

✈     31 per cent read the news

✈     27 per cent sent text messages

✈     19 per cent watched Netflix

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