JetBlue Airways will offer passengers a broadband-like experience as the low-cost carrier begins installation of LiveTV's latest connectivity product, Oasis, on Airbus A320s.

The Oasis roll-out is in conjunction with the introduction of LiveTV's email and instant messaging product for WiFi-enabled laptops and PDAs, Kiteline, this year.

Oasis will combine the low-data rate capability of Kiteline with LiveTV's ability to upload large amounts of cached content to onboard servers via its wireless aircraft data link (WADL).

For several years WADL has provided JetBlue with continuous remote-video monitoring of its aircraft cabins on the ground. But it also enables movies as well as relatively fresh stored content to be uploaded to the aircraft. However, Oasis content is not live.

JetBlue intends to eventually offer Oasis and Kiteline on all aircraft, but the carrier does not have an installation timeline for its A320s or Embraer E-190s, a JetBlue spokeswoman says.

The airline is taking the time to develop a product that is right for passengers, she explains.

Fleet-wide rollout comes as JetBlue has been trailing both services under the BetaBlue name on a single A320 since December 2007.

While JetBlue does not have BetaBlue usage statistics, Kiteline works particularly well with handheld devices and the carrier has seen a spike in Kiteline usage with PDAs in recent months as more passengers acquire WiFi-enabled cell phones and other devices, JetBlue director of product development Brett Cochran tells ATI.

As JetBlue readies for Oasis and Kiteline installation to begin on some A320s before the end of 2009, the carrier is ironing out Oasis content. The airline is contemplating a mix of destination and airport information along with voluntarily-viewed advertising, he says. For example, the airline worked with movie studios to enable passengers to watch stored movie trailers via BetaBlue, Cochran adds.

JetBlue also has the ability to combine Kiteline and Oasis to provide more detailed destination information. The combination allows the carrier to upload weather reports and traffic data using Kiteline and store other destination details on Oasis, he says.

Once installed, passengers will be able to access Kiteline and Oasis for free.

However, pricing remains open for debate as JetBlue mulls full broadband options.

JetBlue CEO Dave Barger recently said during an earnings call "the jury is still out" on passenger willingness to pay $9.95 or $12.95 for broadband on certain stage lengths. But charging passengers for broadband is appropriate for long-haul flights such as transcontinental routes, he adds.

In addition, JetBlue subsidiary LiveTV should build the ability to offer wireless Internet in the event JetBlue and other carriers decide to offer the product, Barger continues. However, the offering is unlikely to appear on JetBlue aircraft in the near-term.

"We'll evaluate opportunities as they may show on the horizon. We certainly don't think this is the right time to do this in today's economy," the chief executive says.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news