Row 44 attracts former Continental CEO to board; confirms Mango deal

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Calling Row 44 a company that is "on its way to becoming a major global provider of in-flight broadband", former Continental Airlines chairman and CEO Larry Kellner has joined the California-based firm's board of directors.

During Kellner's 15-year tenure at Continental, he served as CFO, then president and then ultimately as CEO for his final five years at the airline. He also sits on the board of Marriott International.

"It would be difficult to find a more respected, trusted and knowledgeable executive in the airline industry than Larry Kellner," says Row 44 CEO John Guidon in a statement. "We are delighted to welcome him to our Board."

News that Row 44 has attracted a high-profile director to its board comes on the heels of an announcement that South African operator Mango has tapped Row 44 to provide Ku-band satellite-based connectivity service to its narrowbodies.

A Row 44 spokesman says the company has partnered with WirelessG - one of the biggest hotspot providers on the continent - for the Mango deal. "We're pretty excited about that. We now have airline deals on three continents."

To date, Row 44 has also secured agreements with US low-cost giant Southwest Airlines and European operator Norwegian.

Flightglobal's database shows that Mango operates four Boeing 737-800s. The carrier says it will offer in-flight Internet on all its aircraft "later this year, subject to Civil Aviation Authority" approval processes.

WirelessG's so-called 'G-Connect' account will allow passengers to "stay connected through a shared wallet on the ground, or in-flight Wi-Fi in the air, paying only for the services used", says the firm's CEO Carel van der Merwe.

Using the Internet on board Mango's aircraft will cost less than R1 per megabyte. "In fact, the cost of data transfer is more affordable than many bandwidth offerings on the ground," notes Mango CEO Nico Bezuidenhout.

Financial terms of the agreement between Row 44, WirelessG and Mango have not been disclosed.