Upturned bathtubs…Lufthansa may fly Connexion replacement in ’09, says CEO

Lufthansa CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber yesterday told a roundtable of journalists at the Wings Club in NY that the German operator is still in negotiations with various Ku band-based connectivity providers but that it could offer in-flight Internet “as early as next year”.

CBB antenna.JPGIt is no secret that the launch customer for now-defunct Connexion by Boeing (CBB) has been seeking a provider to assume the service requirements of CBB, allowing Lufthansa to keep the large MELCO antennas that remain attached to its aircraft.

It has long been speculated that the new solution involves a relationship with T-Mobile (HotSpot by T-Mobile is available in nearly all Lufthansa lounges around the globe).

Pressed incessently by an over-caffeinated RWG, Lufthansa executives yesterday declined comment about a potential tie-up involving T-Mobile and refused to say if ViaSat is also involved, as has been rumoured.

One executive with the company did stress, however, that Lufthansa’s interest lies firmly in the high-speed broadband sector. He says: 

“We’re definitely talking about broadband.”

Essentially it seems that Lufthansa wants to be able to offer a very CBB-like service, which it was rather pleased with, thank you very much (and who wouldn’t be, providing those niggling little cost issues are worked out).

One highly clued in observer tells RWG: “I wouldn’t be surprised if the technical solution flies next year. Whether it is truly viable or not is a different matter. The obvious players will be Lufthansa and Singapore, etc who are currently flying some aircraft with the radome still installed.”

Our friendly observer says Lufthansa’s offering “will certainly be a T-Mobile solution”. But apparently there may be some interesting hurdles involving the existing CBB antenna and radome. More on that later.

For now I leave you with our observer’s observation. If Lufthansa opts to reinstate connectivity but keep its current antenna and radome “the fuel burn associated with flying an upturned bathtub on the aircraft will be prohibitive on its own”.

(Photo above of CBB antenna subsystem found in Space Japan Review report here

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