Does AirTran’s Gogo and XM radio hang in the balance?

Unless you live in a cave you’ve no doubt already heard about Southwest Airlines’ plan to buy Atlanta-hubbed AirTran Airways.

Questions about what this deal means for passengers are manifold, and Southwest endeavors to answer some of them here.

A lot of people are asking: “Will Southwest keep AirTran’s Gogo in-flight Internet offering and XM Satellite Radio?” The former air-to-ground (ATG)-based solution is offered through Aircell, while the latter is offered through JetBlue subsidiary LiveTV.

As you’ll see from Southwest’s answer below, AirTran’s existing commitments to Aircell and LiveTV may very well be hang in the balance right now. Southwest, meanwhile, is pushing ahead with installation of Row 44′s Ku-band satellite system across its entire fleet.

Q: Will AirTran’s WiFi (AirCell/GoGo) and XM Radio products remain on their aircraft?

A: Until closing, each carrier will operateindependently, including any offerings onboard the respective aircraft.The Integration Team will evaluate the existing commitments of AirTran.We have a contract with Row 44 and remain committed to the installationof WiFi onboard the Southwest fleet.

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5 Responses to Does AirTran’s Gogo and XM radio hang in the balance?

  1. Careful wording September 27, 2010 at 12:26 pm #

    You can parse that statement either way – Southwest simply says it remains “committed to the installation of WiFi onboard the Southwest fleet” NOT that it is committed to the installation of Row44.

    This could equally well present an opportunity to reconsider (or at least pause) the Row44 installations.

  2. Mary Kirby September 27, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    Fair enough. The devil is in the details of that Row 44 contract, me thinks. There is a lot of speculation about what that contract entails (i.e. is a portion of the fleet covered initially, with options to extend or does it cover the entire 500-plus Southwest fleet)? Southwest would need to do some serious verbal backpedaling if it stops the Row 44 installs, however.

  3. Michael September 27, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    My guess would be that the careful wording is to leave open the door for dual-offerings while contracts expire, and to be sure to keep Row 44 on their toes on costs if the customer doesn’t pay for what they get free everywhere else. I still have a hard time paying for wifi where I don’t get enough space to open my laptop without the risk of snapping the screen off when the seat in front reclines – and with no power to keep it running the entire flight.

  4. Jetcal1 September 27, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

    I suspect both systems will remain in use until the fleet is converted over to one common type of aircraft favored by SWA. Until then I would think the STC costs to standardize would be considered an unneeded expense.

    So, which operator had the largest fleet? I would hazard a guess that the answer to which systems stays is within that question.

    (Besides that sets the stage for a nice long protracted bidding war between the providers.)

  5. Dan September 27, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

    They confirm that they will do-away with dual-class service and reserved seats. Terrible.

    I haven’t flown AirTran recently, but it is a shame to see the loss of another carrier who at least makes an _attempt_ to care about passenger comfort and convenience.