Revolutionary: Air New Zealand to Introduce High Speed Starlink Internet
Air New Zealand plans to offer free, high-speed internet to Kiwi travelers on select domestic flights. Teaming up with Starlink, a satellite internet provider, they aim to trial this service on two aircraft, including a jet and an ATR, starting in late 2024. This initiative marks the debut of internet access on a turboprop aircraft, setting a precedent in air travel technology.
The trial of Starlink internet on select aircraft will last four to six months. If successful, Air New Zealand plans to implement this high-speed, low latency in-flight internet on all remaining domestic fleet by 2025. Passengers can expect internet speeds fast enough to stream video content seamlessly.
The in-flight Starlink internet will enable business travelers to continue working during flights, while leisure travelers can stream podcasts and Netflix shows in real-time instead of pre-downloading. However, current regulations from the Civil Aviation Authority will prohibit making phone calls during the flight.
Air New Zealand presently has the capability to block objectionable content on their internet service. Introducing internet access to the ATR will mark a pioneering achievement in the aviation world.
Air NZ chief digital officer Nikhil Ravishankar mentioned that although internet access will be available from gate to gate, it will be switched off during takeoff and landing to comply with CAA regulations. Despite potential views that internet might not be essential for short domestic flights, Ravishankar believes there’s a significant demand for this service.
For now, the Starlink trial is limited to domestic flights. Air New Zealand’s international jets have Wi-Fi, except for specific leased planes, using geostationary satellites. Starlink, on the other hand, employs LEO satellites closer to Earth, ensuring more reliable signals as they’re always nearby due to their low-earth orbit movement.
Jason Fritch, a vice president at Starlink in SpaceX, expressed pride in collaborating with Air New Zealand to introduce Starlink’s high-speed internet to their aircraft, aiming to extend this transformative in-flight connectivity experience to a global audience.