Starting next year, Hawaiian Airlines will become the first major airline to offer free Wi-Fi via SpaceX’s Starlink internet service.
The deal, signed April 21, will outfit 100 airplanes with Starlink terminals after testing is completed. While approval will depend on each aircraft type, Hawaiian’s Airbus A330, A321neo, and Boeing 787-9 aircraft will receive the internet upgrade next year.
“Hawaiian Airlines is ensuring its passengers will experience high-speed internet the way we expect it in the 21st century, making hassles like downloading movies before takeoff a relic of the past,” said Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX vice president of Starlink commercial sales. “With Starlink, the inflight experience is greatly simplified so that once passengers step onboard the plane, the internet works seamlessly throughout their flight. Soon, passengers will enjoy all the benefits of having the world’s best inflight internet connectivity from the comfort of their seats.”
According to Elon Musk, who owns SpaceX, tweeted that the schedule for implementation will be decided by regulatory approvals.
Schedule driver there is regulatory approval. Has to be certified for each aircraft type. Focusing on 737 & A320, as those serve most number of people, with development testing on Gulfstream.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 25, 2021
According to its website, Starlink is capable of providing download speeds between 100 Mb/s and 200 Mb/s with a 20ms latency in “most locations.” The breadth of Starlink’s worldwide reach is made possible by the almost 2,000 satellites in low-Earth orbit (LEO).
It is unclear whether or not those speeds will be available on a plane mid flight, but Hawaiian Airlines president and CEO Peter Ingram is optimistic about the quality of internet service they will provide.
“When we launch with Starlink, we will have the best connectivity experience available in the air,” Ingram said. “We waited until technology caught up with our high standards for guest experience, but it will be worth the wait. Our guests can look forward to fast, seamless and free Wi-Fi to complement our award-winning onboard Hawaiian hospitality.”
The financial value of the deal between Starlink and Hawaiian Airlines has not been made public.