SpaceX signs Hawaiian Airlines for free Starlink Wi-Fi on flights

Hawaiian Airlines plane

Louis Nastro | Reuters

SpaceX will start providing wireless internet Hawaiian Airlines Flights from Starlink satellite network early next year, a service the airline told CNBC it plans to offer passengers free of charge.

Represents the first agreement of Elon Musk Aerospace company with a major airline. Starlink is SpaceX’s network of nearly 2,000 satellites in low Earth orbit, designed to deliver high-speed Internet to consumers and businesses anywhere on the planet.

Hawaii’s free Starlink calling plan may put more pressure on competitors to offer travelers free Wi-Fi, something currently available on JetBlue Airways. for example, Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian said in 2018 that the airline wanted to offer free high-speed Wi-Fi on its planes. I tested it on some trips in 2019.

The installation of Starlink terminals, also known as antennas, is expected to begin next year on Hawaiian aircraft. Hawaii’s chief marketing and communications officer, Avi Manes, said in an interview that the airline has not yet begun testing Starlink on a plane, and there are “certification issues that need to be worked out before we are ready to operate the product.” “But we are confident that there is a way forward for that.”

The airline refused to reveal the financial details of its deal with SpaceX.

Hawaii does not currently offer in-flight Wi-Fi and has an extensive network of flights over the Pacific Ocean, serving the mainland United States, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, among other destinations, from Hawaii. It plans to offer Starlink connectivity on its flights outside of its home state to cities throughout the US mainland and to its international destinations.

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“Historically, we’ve looked at our market and haven’t seen great options across the Pacific. We actually don’t have any contact on our fleet today,” Manez said. “The options have improved over time, but we waited for a product to be shown…we thought it would live up to our guests’ expectations.”

At the end of 2021, Hawaii had 24 Airbus A330-200s and 18 A321s. She plans to equip the next Boeing 787s with Starlink too. Manez said its 717s, which are used on domestic flights, are excluded from the deal.

Mannis did not specify the internet speed that SpaceX announced Starlink would offer on planes, but said that “the kinds of performance they talked about and showed were absolutely fantastic.”

In a press release from Hawaii, Jonathan Hoefler, Vice President of Commercial Sales for Starlink at SpaceX, also praised the product’s performance, “Hawaiian Airlines ensures its passengers experience high-speed internet the way we expect in the 21st century, causing hassles like downloading movies before take off from remnants of the past.”

Manis, the Hawaii-based CEO, emphasized that SpaceX’s vision for the in-flight internet is “totally different” from other satellite broadband providers, saying Starlink’s goals are that service “has to be fast, and it has to be frictionless, It should be free.”

SpaceX said last year She was in contact with many airlines To provide service on board.

last week, JSX, the semi-private charter airline, said it has reached a Starlink Wi-fi deal, the first airline to do so. SpaceX currently has about 250,000 Starlink subscribers, including consumers and enterprise customers. Users pay $110 per month for the standard service and $500 per month for the premium tier, Plus hardware fees.

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Hawaii is due to report quarterly results after the market closes on Tuesday.

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