EXCLUSIVE | Virgin Australia will serve up inflight Internet on flights between Australia and New Zealand from early 2018 as it rushes to leapfrog Qantas in rolling out WiFi on international routes.
Virgin's flights between Australia and Los Angeles will also begin offering WiFi from December, further bolstering the airline's appeal to overseas business travellers who want to stay connected above the clouds.
A spokesperson for Virgin Australia confirmed to Australian Business Traveller the rollout of "inflight WiFi on flights to and from New Zealand and other destinations on our short-haul international network, from early in 2018."
The airline aims to have half of its international Boeing 737 fleet kitted out with the high-speed Gogo 2Ku / Optus satellite system before the end of March 2018, with the remainder completed "before the end of September 2018".
In addition to the busy trans-Tasman corridor, Virgin's WiFi-equipped Boeing 737s will also fly to Fiji and Bali "creating a key differentiator in the market for us," the spokesperson added.
A spokesperson for Qantas confirmed that the airline has no plans to match Virgin's WiFi play across the pond.
"We are focusing on the domestic WiFi rollout right now" the spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller. "With international flights, we need a product that can overcome a number of technical, performance and coverage challenges."
Virgin's flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Los Angeles will progressively come online from December 2017 as each of the five Boeing 777-300ER jets is upgraded, with the service to be free to all travellers during its initial 'beta testing' period.
Virgin is expected to reveal its pricing and plans for international WiFi access in mid-December.