Ethiopian Airlines Retrofits Airbus A350 Aircraft With WiFi

Ethiopian Airlines has announced a new WiFi service onboard its Airbus A350 fleet. The airline has retrofitted its Airbus A350s with upgraded Ka-band satellite broadband technology to provide customers with high-speed in-flight WiFi services.

An Ethiopian Airlines Airbus A350
Ethiopian Airlines has some exciting news for customers flying on its Airbus A350s. Photo: Mark Harkin via Flickr

Ethiopian Airlines will be offering passengers aboard its Airbus A350s upgraded WiFi via a newly fitted, state-of-the-art Ka-band satellite broadband connection. Ethiopian Airlines eventually plans to roll out the new WiFi service to its other aircraft operating long-haul routes.

In a press release, Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde GebreMariam, said,

“The launch of the onboard wi-fi internet is part of our relentless efforts to further add to passengers’ comfort keeping pace with the technology of the day. As customer-centric airline, we will remain focused on continuous service excellence, taking advantage of emerging technologies and infrastructure.”

The new WiFi service will be available for customers to purchase at Ethiopian Airlines Sales Outlets, as well as at boarding gates, in-flight and using ShebaMiles.

Ethiopian Airlines’ offering to passengers

The Airbus A350 is the flagship of Ethiopian Airlines’ fleet. With 12 currently in service, the new WiFi service will only be available to a small number of Ethiopian Airlines passengers for now.

But Ethiopian Airlines is a carrier on the up, and its plans to roll out the new WiFi service to other aircraft in the fleet is promising news for its long-haul passengers.

An Ethiopian Airlines A350
The Airbus A350 is Ethiopian Airlines’ flagship. Photo: John Taggart via Flickr

It also has an additional 12 Airbus A350s on order and regularly opens up new international long-haul routes.

The airline is the flag carrier of Ethiopia, the biggest airline in Africa and also has one of the youngest fleets in the world. This is all good news for passengers considering flying with Ethiopian Airlines, as it certainly exceeds expectations for a typical African carrier.

With the opening of its expanded passenger terminal and new five-star hotel at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport earlier this year, Ethiopian Airlines is going through an exciting period of growth.

The new terminal makes Addis Ababa Bole International Airport the largest air transport hub between Africa and the rest of the world, overtaking Dubai.

WiFi offerings elsewhere in the industry

While Ethiopian Airlines stands considerably higher than its fellow African competitor airlines when it comes to in-flight service, elsewhere in the world competition is much stiffer.

In the US, for example, the major US airlines have been struggling for ways to differentiate their offerings to potential customers.

Delta’s announcement that it would be rolling out free customer WiFi on its flights has sparked a race among its domestic competitors.

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 757
Delta is making WiFi free on its flights. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

It’s pretty much a necessity for everyone nowadays, either on smartphone, laptop or tablet, so taking a flight where you have to pay for WiFi access is a much less attractive prospect than one where it comes free.

It didn’t take long for United Airlines to announce it would also be giving passengers free WiFi access. Meanwhile, American Airlines has introduced upgraded high-speed WiFi across its entire main fleet, although passengers still have to pay to use it for now.

Although Ethiopian Airlines’ new WiFi service isn’t quite on the same level as the American carriers, it is still impressive considering the market Ethiopian operates in.