Aircell initiates layoffs

Philadelphia
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Aircell has initiated employee layoffs, saying it needs to "right-size" the company to position it for future growth.

The company in a statement says: "During the last three years, Aircell has built a nationwide air-to-ground (ATG) network, won the confidence and business of eight airlines, and installed its digital wireless system on more than 550 airplanes, with more aircraft being added each night, and is achieving more than 5% per week paid Internet session growth.

"This has been a period of extraordinary growth and learning. It is time now to consolidate that learning, harvest the related, tremendous productivity gains and right-size the company for the future - a future of continued very rapid growth in both installations and end user customers."

Aircell is not confirming the number of employees being let go, nor has it disclosed whether management is affected. It does reveal, however, that it is in the process of finalizing a new round of financing and expects to complete the process by the end of October.

"We have recently received substantial funding and commitments from existing and new investors and expect to add to those before the financing closes. We thank the employees who can no longer be retained for their contributions, regret that we can't retain them and wish them the very best," says the firm.

In the United States, where a dedicated ATG network exists, Aircell has secured seven customers for its Gogo broadband Internet system. An eighth customer, Canadian operator Air Canada, is expected to begin trials of Gogo this year.

The company recently applied for a $65 million Broadband Technology Opportunities Programme (BTOP) grant through the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration. BTOP funding was set aside by the US government to expand broadband access to unserved and underserved communities in the USA.