UPDATE | It'll be at least another few months until Qantas passengers get their first taste of inflight Internet as the airline pushes back public trials of the service until early 2017.
While one Qantas Boeing 737 aircraft has now been kitted out with the technology, the delay allows Qantas and its connectivity partner ViaSat to conduct further testing of the system before opening it up to travellers.
"While we know that customers will want to connect to the WiFi, we really do appreciate their patience while we go through our final testing process," said Qantas’ Head of Customer Experience Phil Capps.
This next round of testing "ensure(s) that, first and foremost, the safety of the installation meets Qantas’ stringent standards, as well as ensuring the system will deliver the level of performance we expect at this stage of the trial," Capps added.
Qantas had previously planned to debut inflight Internet on domestic flights by the end of 2016, with passengers to enjoy free inflight streaming of cricket matches under a partnership with Cricket Australia.
However, the delay now means that airborne travellers will miss the bulk – if not all – of the summer cricket season, which winds down on February 22 2017.
Once public trials of the service do commence in early 2017 aboard one Boeing 737 aircraft, Qantas aims to begin fitting its entire domestic Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 fleets with the tech from the middle of the year, with fleetwide completion due in 2018.
The airline remains in talks with suppliers to bring inflight Internet to its regional (QantasLink) and international fleets, but has no firm plans at this stage.
PREVIOUS, August 24 2016 | Qantas plans to offer inflight Internet access on every aircraft in its domestic fleet and is looking to extend sky-high WiFi across its international network as well.
With a trial to take place on its Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 aircraft towards the end of the year, the Roo will complete the roll-out of inflight WiFi in 2017 and is in the final stages of securing the tech for its QantasLink Boeing 717s and Dash 8s, along with its Network Aviation Fokker 100s.
Passengers flying during the Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 tech trials later this year will be able to watch a live stream of the summer's cricket season under a partnership between Qantas and Cricket Australia.
“A flight from Sydney to Perth should be enough time to catch an entire match of 20/20," Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce says, "and live cricket is just one of the partnerships we are looking at.”
Also on the agenda is inflight Internet across Qantas’ international fleet.
“There are over 200 Qantas aircraft and some complex technical issues to work through… but our plan is to provide Wi-Fi to all our customers as soon as we can, and we’ll be providing more detail after the domestic trial,” Joyce’s speech reads.
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