I had a good chat with ViaSat strategy director Bill Sullivan yesterday evening. We talked about the company’s strategy to bring Ku-band and Ka-band connectivity to airlines, either directly or through partnerships. Be sure to keep an eye on Flight Global’s new IFE&C channel for an article about that later today. But I also talked to Bill about Lufthansa’s decision to cease negotiations with T-Mobile and ViaSat, and turn to Panasonic Avionics to reignite connectivity on its overseas flights.
For obvious reasons Bill had to be a bit cautious when discussing the subject of Lufthansa. But here he is in his own words.
“One of the things to point out is the airlines have a comfort level when it comes to purchasing cabin avionics with known players in the industry and while T-Mobile is obviously a world-class company and communications service provider, they don’t really have a history in the provision of cabin avionics for airlines. It was an interesting test [the pursuit of Lufthansa]. I don’t believe the deal is done between Panasonic and Lufthansa but as I understand it, they now have the position we once enjoyed, exclusive negotiations status.
“So, it was a good test [in whether] an airline would purchase cabin avionics from a non-traditional player. We’ve seen the case where Southwest Airlines is purchasing it from Row 44. Row 44 is an upstart. They are aviation people but they don’t have a long history of providing cabin avionics. But Lufthansa has been leaning back towards the cabin avionics supplier they are more comfortable with. Clearly Panasonic has a very large portfolio [and I'm] sure they could make very aggressive offers. They have the pockets in terms of…doing a lot of things for a lot of airlines. [They] have a lot more flexibility in the kinds of deals they can make with an airline.”