Delta Air Lines will launch Internet connectivity onboard its domestic fleet using Aircell’s mobile broadband service Gogo this fall.

Colorado-based Aircell, owner of a 3MHz broadband national air-to-ground (ATG) license, will initially install its network on 133 of the carrier’s Boeing MD-88 and MD-90 aircraft.

Installation takes about a day and a mix of 75 MD-88s and MD-90s will offer the service by the end of the year, a Delta spokesman says. The service will be placed on MD-90s, which tend to fly on the west coast, when the aircraft are brought in for maintenance, he adds.

Gogo will be expanded to Delta’s 737, 757 and 767-300 aircraft during the first half of 2009.

Delta Airlines MD-88 

Delta expects to sell in-flight connectivity on more than 330 aircraft by summer 2009, the SkyTeam alliance member says in a statement.

Gogo will also be installed on Northwest Airlines’ domestic aircraft upon completion of its proposed merger with Delta, but a timeline for installation has not been determined, the Delta spokesman says.

The Atlanta-based carrier will charge a flat fee of $9.95 for Gogo on flights three hours or less. Flights longer than three hours carry a charge of $12.95.

While the carrier declined to estimate a take rate or project revenues, the Delta spokesman stressed passengers have requested Internet access during flight.

Using an exclusive US Federal Communication Commission frequency license, CDMA Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO) Rev A protocol and network optimization and acceleration technology, Aircell is currently able to deliver connection speed rate of more than 12 Mbps.

Passengers with Wi-Fi enabled devices, such as laptops and smartphones, will be able to access the Internet, corporate and personal e-mail, SMS texting and instant messaging services.

Meanwhile, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines are gearing up to test onboard connectivity.

“Very soon” American will run a three-to-six month Gogo trial on 15 767-200s, a carrier spokeswoman says. The carrier tested Gogo on two flights in June.

Unlike the June test, Gogo will cost $12.95 during the trial and will be sold on 767-200 flights from New York John F. Kennedy International airport to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami, the American spokeswoman says, noting Aircell sets pricing.

Pending the outcome of the trial, American will evaluate whether Gogo will be rolled out across its domestic fleet.

Southwest is in the midst of testing the proof of concept for Row 44’s satellite-based in-flight broadband connectivity on one aircraft not in regularly scheduled service, a Southwest spokeswoman says.

The 737 operator will test connectivity on four aircraft in use for at least a month during the fourth quarter, she adds.

The low-cost carrier has not determined on which flights the testing will occur, but Internet will be free during the trial, she says.

Unlike Aircell, California-based Row 44 does not set prices for connectivity, so Southwest will determine pricing after the trial if the carrier opts to charge for the service, the airline’s spokeswoman explains.

Alaska Airlines will test Row 44’s product on one 737 later in this quarter, a Row 44 spokeswoman says, adding it will be a short trial.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news



Source: Flight International