Qantas will launch inflight Internet on its domestic Airbus A330 jets in June, allowing travellers on the big twin-aisle to enjoy the same fast and free WiFi service as on the workhorse Boeing 737 fleet.
The move will be welcomed by passengers on the transcontinental flights, which are largely the domain of the Airbus A330-200s for the 4-5 hour cross-country trek.
Qantas has fitted the first of its 12 domestic A330-200s with the same Ka-band satellite tech as the Boeing 737s, with test flights over the coming fortnight. By the end of June, a second WiFi-equipped A330 will take to the skies.
There are currently no plans to bring international WiFi to the long-range A330-300 jets.
However, on those instances when a domestic A330-200 is rostered onto one of the international routes to Asia, WiFi will be available to the tip of the Northern Territory and Queensland, which are covered by the national footprint of the NBN Skymuster satellite.
Qantas originally intended to offer inflight Internet on its A330s from early 2017, later pushing that back to early 2018 and then postponing the rollout to 2019-2020.
The revised timetable will not only please east-west flyers but also give Qantas an edge for business travellers against competitor Virgin Australia, which has previously said it won't begin its own Airbus A330 WiFi overhaul until late 2018, with the upgrade for its six jets stretching out to 2020.
However, at least two of those jets will be dedicated to Virgin's growing Asian network, which from the second half of this year will see Sydney-Hong Kong flights added to the current Melbourne-Hong Kong route.
Virgin currently counts only six A330s in its fleet, but has begun shifting those jets onto its nascent Asian network, starting with Melbourne-Hong Kong in mid-2017 and, from July 2018, Sydney-Hong Kong.
Qantas now plans for almost all of its Boeing 737 and Airbus A330-200 jets to be upgraded with WiFi by the end of 2018, with the remaining aircraft to be equipped during 2019.