US carriers to benefit from Gogo's Canadian expansion

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Gogo has launched its in-flight wi-fi network in Western Canada and will complete eastward expansion within the next three months, the Illinois-based connectivity provider says.

The firm has activated four of 12 cell towers spread across the country so far, enabling Alaska Airlines to provide wi-fi service between Alaska and cities on the US west coast, says Gogo.

Other US operators like Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, US Airways and United Airlines will also be able to activate the service in Canadian airspace when flying transborder routes.

Canadian carriers have not installed fleet-wide wi-fi but have indicated that they are surveying the market for options.

Air Canada has offered Gogo’s air-to-ground (ATG) service on two aircraft since 2009 on routes to Los Angeles from Toronto and Montreal over US airspace. But the carrier says it is still weighing the options for a more large-scale commitment for wi-fi installations.

“We are continuing to assess the market, but no decisions have been made,” Air Canada tells Flightglobal. The carrier notes that it is watching the market as the products evolve and become more lightweight.

“It does represent a significant investment so we want to be sure we make the best choice,” says Air Canada.

Calgary-based WestJet may opt to install wi-fi along with an upgrade to its in-flight entertainment (IFE) system with a yet-to-be revealed product. The airline says it is “making good progress” on choosing a new in-flight entertainment system and hopes to make an announcement “very soon.”

A majority of WestJet’s 107 Boeing 737s are already outfitted with satellite television from LiveTV, which launched a new wi-fi offering on JetBlue's Airbus A320s in mid-December.

Porter Airlines says it is “not actively looking at Gogo-type technology” for its Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprop fleet, which fly regional routes. But it says that it would consider adding wi-fi or “similar technologies” to the fleet in 2016 if it gains approvals to fly the Bombardier CS100 jet from its hub at Billy Bishop Toronto City airport.

“We do intend to have this capability for the CS100's longer routes, and would also consider adding it to the Q400 at that time,” says the airline.

Gogo received a license to expand its wi-fi network to Canada in August 2012.