Lufthansa has completed installation of nearly 90% of its long-haul fleet with the Panasonic Avionics connectivity solution and is in talks with providers over a solution for its continental fleet.

The Star Alliance carrier, a passionate customer of the old Connexion by Boeing service, drove the relaunch of broadband connectivity in-flight service with Panasonic three years ago.

"We are almost almost complete," explains the airline's head of product and airport passenger services, Joachim Schneider, of installation of its intercontinental fleet. All but a few of its long-haul aircraft - those still awaiting retrofit - are equipped with the system.

The airline has built momentum and usage levels, particular on routes between Europe and North America where the service has been available the longest.

"Now we are looking at the next stage, trying to connect on the continental fleet. I am pretty sure in the next five to 10 years this will be more or less standard [for the industry].

"This is going to have to be based on air-to-ground because it is the most cost effective way to do it," he adds. The airline is currently talking to various suppliers on a solution.

Schneider, in a wide-ranging keynote address at the Passenger Experience conference in Hamburg ahead of Airline Interiors, had highlighted the way in which smartphones are transforming the experience, both on and off the aircraft.

"We are just at the beginning of this digitisation. In a few years it will be the norm. It is a very powerful tool and we need to be using it," he says. "So [for example] if there is something wrong with your connection, we can inform you - and we should - about what our solution for you is. If we have that channel to the passenger we can do it."

Source: Flight Daily News