Europe's two leading low-cost airlines EasyJet and Ryanair are both evaluating onboard wi-fi but are not prepared to move until pricing is reduced.

EasyJet's head of operational systems Simon Lamkin says the airline expects to introduce onboard connectivity but is in no rush to begin installing it on the fleet as it waits for the appropriate technology and pricing structure.

"Clearly, wi-fi technology is something that's going to be ubiquitous – the key for us is the timing," said Lamkin at the 2015 SITA Air Transport IT Summit in Brussels. "I'm not convinced the right product is out there that we want at the moment and certainly not at the right cost, but it will certainly turn up."

Lamkin explains that EasyJet is "not convinced that satellite technology is the right product that gives the right speed, the right performance, the right services that we're looking for".

There is no pressure for EasyJet to finalise its plan for wi-fi roll-out ahead of deliveries starting of its new Airbus A320neo fleet, he says. EasyJet will begin receiving the first of 100 A320neos in 2017.

Deciding on a wi-fi strategy is "not top of our priorities, it's further down the wishlist and we're going to wait for the next year or two to see what evolves with technology before we move in that space", Lamkin says.

Speaking at the same event, Ryanair chief technology officer John Hurley concurred with his rival, saying that regarding wi-fi "[we have] exactly the same thought as EasyJet. We've definitely got to go with it but it’s just too expensive at the moment."

Ryanair dallied with SITA's OnAir onboard connectivity division six years ago when it ran a mobile-phone trial. This began in February 2009 to much fanfare on 50 aircraft, and the intention was to equip the airline's entire 200-plus fleet of Boeing 737-800s. However, the venture ended in April 2010 after the two companies were unable to reach a "mutual agreement on the process and timing" for the full deployment.

In Europe's low-cost carrier sector, Norwegian already offers onboard wi-fi using Row 44's service, while Spain's Vueling is undertaking a connectivity trial this summer with Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica. Air Berlin and Niki have been using Panasonic's connectivity offering on a small number of aircraft.

Source: Cirium Dashboard