Lufthansa has concluded its three-month free trial of the Connexion by Boeing broadband e-mail and internet service on a Boeing 747-400 operating between Frankfurt and Washington DC and hopes to finish evaluating the results by June.

The airline reports an average of 50-80 simultaneous users per flight, and up to 150 users on a single flight. Speaking at the IPEC 2003 in-flight entertainment conference in London earlier this month, Lufthansa FlyNet project general manager Burkard Wigger said he was confident the airline would adopt the system across its long-haul fleet. "We expect to sign a service agreement with Connexion shortly. We want to be in routine operations by mid-2004," he said.

British Airways, running a trial of the system on one 747 since February, has not decided if it wants to extend the system to the rest of its long-haul fleet. Kevin George, BA senior manager product change and brands, says "early indications are very encouraging that passengers are changing to BA because of connectivity. It's about to create a step change in the market."

Connexion by Boeing vice-president of global network sales Stanley Deal says passenger usage of the system has surpassed expectations. "We've learned that passengers are mainly using this for accessing their companies' virtual private networks and for audio and video streaming," he says. He adds the experience shows passengers will pay for the service, although no pricing guidelines have been set.

Source: Flight International