Delta Air Lines has this week unveiled a deal with Viasat for its future connectivity needs. Viasat’s latest Ka-band inflight connectivity system will be rolled out onboard Delta’s narrowbody aircraft starting this summer. It’s the first supplier to secure a place in Delta’s plans since it broke exclusivity with Gogo last year and is set to be a significant step on the road to free WiFi for passengers.
Viasat to supply 300 mainline narrowbodies
Delta’s break from Gogo was one of the bigger shocks of 2020. Following several years of exclusivity and an agreement to continue on this basis until 2027, the US airline amended the contract last June to allow it to seek a supplier elsewhere. Subsequently, Gogo has sold its inflight WiFi business to Intelsat, with the deal wrapped up in December.
Now, the direction in which Delta is headed has become clear. Earlier this week, Viasat announced a breakthrough deal with Delta to supply 300 mainline narrowbody aircraft with its own, next-generation Ka-band inflight connectivity solution. Rick Baldridge, president and CEO at Viasat, commented on the deal, saying,
“Delta is committed to optimizing the customer journey, and we’re committed to helping them build a foundation toward a better in-flight internet and entertainment experience. We have a proven in-flight connectivity solution that is high-quality, streaming-capable, and can scale to meet Delta’s growing customer demand. We’re proud to be part of their connected ecosystem.”
So far, information shared by the partners indicates that Delta’s 737-900ER, 757-200 and A321s will be supplied with Viasat’s solution. New delivery narrowbodies may also be Viasat equipped, with the first aircraft going live by summer 2021.
Pushing towards free WiFi
Delta’s endgame here is to bring its customers fast, reliable and, above all, free WiFi across its network. While there’s no indication that free WiFi will be available right away, Delta is promising faster connections, a new user interface and personalized onboard content. The airline is betting on Viasat’s high-speed satellite network and next-gen technology to deliver a better service to its passengers.
In terms of offering the service for free, Delta says that this is a big step on the journey to realizing this long-held ambition. Back in January last year, at CES 2020, Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian shared a vision of a more seamless, connected experience with personalization at the heart of its ambitions. Teaming up with Viasat, Delta hopes, will take it closer to achieving this.
The Viasat technology will begin appearing on Delta aircraft in the summer. Although that seems a way off, Delta has some work to do in getting approvals, testing and implementation sorted. The arrival of Viasat’s solution onboard will see the new portal rolled out too, as Delta pushes towards a consistent experience across its fleet.
For the free WiFi dream, Delta isn’t committing to a timeline. Ekrem Dimbiloglu, Director of Brand Experience – In-Flight Entertainment & WiFi, noted that,
“Our vision for the future of travel will not come to life overnight. While we’ve had to shift our focus during the pandemic, our journey to offering the best customer experience possible has never stopped. Our teams are relentless in ensuring Delta customers have the very best experience onboard.”
Are you excited to see Delta branching out with more connectivity providers? Let us know in the comments.
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