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Southwest Airlines today told a packed room of IFE&C executives and airlines that, unlike most of its colleagues, it hasn’t “chosen Aircell at this point”.
Speaking at the WAEA single focus workshop in Mukilteo, Southwest senior manager, flight operations technologies Doug Murri said: “We have not committed to full fleet rollout. We are watching the market and letting things shake out a little bit.”
Adding further intrigue, Murri says: “We expect in the next few weeks, a month or so, an announcement to share with all of you.”
Southwest has been trailing Row 44′s Ku-band satellite-based solution on four Boeing 737s. Alaska Airlines has been trialing the same solution on a single 737.
Row 44 has faced opposition to its application for permanent authority with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Until this crucial hurdle is overcome, Row 44 cannot install its system across Southwest or Alaska’s fleets.
“We have been very pleased with the Row 44 system. We have had no technical issues with the throughput, bandwidth and speed of that system,” says Murri. He admits, however, that Southwest has “also spoken a lot with Aircell”.