Continental deal is on “pause”, but still in play

As reported on the Flightglobal IFEC channel and the Wandering Aramean blog, Continental Airlines has opted to postpone its trial of Aircell’s Gogo in-flight Internet system on 21 Boeing 757-300s, as it thrashes out strategy with merger partner United Airlines. 

So is the deal dead, RWG?

Not quite. Aircell tells me that its agreement with Continental for the 757-300 fleet “remains in place”, but that Continental “has, in effect, ‘hit the Pause button’ as they work through the merger-integration planning process”.

United already operates Gogo on a portion of its 757-200 fleet. So it makes perfect sense that Continental and United are looking at fleet rationalization before deciding on a consistent in-flight service for their merged operation. In other words, I don’t think it’s time to pick apart Continental’s decision to postpone Gogo…yet. 

It is logical to assume, however, that Continental and United are studying all their options for domestic fleet-wide equipage (I mean they’ve got to do something, since Delta Air Lines is nearly fleet-wide with Gogo, and Southwest Airlines has begun equipping its Boeing 737s with Row 44′s satellite-based system).

And, even as it hits “pause” on Wi-Fi, Continental is pushing ahead with equipage of LiveTV’s LTV3 system across its Boeing domestic fleet. As of 8 June, Continental had completed 51% of the installations.

Continental fleet status.JPG

As you can see, the LiveTV guys down in Melbourne, Florida have been busy, but they’d be even busier if the merged Continental/United opted for LTV3.

And who’s to say the two carriers won’t do both Gogo and LTV3? If they want to truly duplicate in the air what’s happening on the ground (iPhone or laptop sitting on our laps while we watch TV), they could do it.

United and Continental fleets merged.JPG

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2 Responses to Continental deal is on “pause”, but still in play

  1. David Parker Brown June 11, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    I love these graphics! Who gets to make them?

    It seems odd to pause GoGo, which UAL also has, and is cheaper than LiveTV. I am guessing there has to be a reason?


  2. Mary Kirby June 12, 2010 at 8:52 am #

    Hey David,
    The fleet equipage graph is from Continental’s site. Jon Ostrower compiled the United/Continental combined fleet. In a case such as this, where two legacy brands are merging, decisions about what will be offered in-flight are often pushed way down the to-do list. That being said, Delta was pretty clear about its intent to go fleet-wide – including on Northwest’s fleet – during the merger process. United only offers Gogo on a portion of its 757s, though, so it may very well be still trying to sus out its own strategy.