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Virgin Australia to roll out wi-fi across core fleet

Virgin Australia is planning to equip its core fleet of Boeing 737s, 777s and Airbus A330s with in-flight wi-fi connectivity by the second half of 2019.

The carrier says in a statement that trials of Gogo’s 2Ku connectivity system on one of its 737-800s has proven successful, and a wider rollout across the fleet will commence in October.

It is targeting to have all of its 777-300ERs and the majority of its 737s fitted with the system by the end of 2018, with the A330-200s to be completed by the second half of 2019.

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that the carrier operates five 777s, 79 737NGs and six A330s. It also has 40 737 Max aircraft on order, which will start to deliver from late 2019.

Virgin group chief executive John Borghetti says that the rollout will see more than 90% of its fleet equipped with wi-fi.

“Virgin Australia will offer a base level of free wi-fi to all of our guests on domestic flights and become the only Australian airline to offer wi-fi on international flights,” he adds.

Virgin’s system uses Ku-band satellite operated by Australian telecommunications company Optus. It has previously said that international services will rely on satellites operated by SES and Intelsat.

Rival Qantas has committed to rolling out wi-fi on its domestic fleet of 737-800s and A330s. It is using ViaSat connectivity equipment, which connect to NBNCo’s two SkyMuster Ka-band satellites.

At present, wi-fi is operational on one of its 737s, with the second due to enter service shortly pending a software upgrade to the ViaSat system.

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