Dutch airline KLM has turned on the first of its WiFi services for the European short-haul market. Two 737-800s have begun operating today with Viasat WiFi. By the end of the year, these will be joined by 16 further European-focused 737s, letting KLM fliers stay connected on all their journeys.
Short-haul WiFi for KLM fliers
Dutch flag carrier KLM is bringing inflight connectivity to the European short-haul market, starting today. Its partnership with Viasat will see 18 Boeing 737-800 aircraft getting WiFi installed, letting European fliers stay connected even on their shorter trips.
Viasat has so far equipped just two KLM narrowbody aircraft with its technology but is scheduled to complete the full fleet of 18 Boeing’s by the end of this year. Beginning today, these two aircraft will provide full WiFi access for free, but only for the first week of activation.
KLM states that, during this week-long trial, it will be encouraging passengers to get connected so that it can further evaluate and optimize the onboard WiFi experience. Boet Kreiken, EVP Customer Experience at KLM commented,
“KLM continues to invest in the on-board product, so that we can continue to meet our customers’ expectations and emerge from this crisis stronger than ever. On-board Wi-Fi is an important service that customers want to enjoy for the entire duration of their journey. KLM’s internet service is already being used extensively on our intercontinental flights. Through this partnership with Viasat, we are ensuring that our customers can be online on European flights as well.”
Interestingly, the Viasat deal also includes a fleet of 21 Embraer E195s. The only E195s KLM has in its lineup are the three second-generation E2s that fly for Cityhopper. A further 22 are scheduled to be delivered between now and 2024, which suggests most of its fleet are expected to be WiFi-equipped.
The deal with Viasat was first revealed last November when KLM signed for an undisclosed number of European short-haul aircraft to be outfitted with the tech. This makes Viasat the third WiFi provider for the airline, with Panasonic eXConnect supplying its 787s and Gogo catering to its 777s and A330s.
Free messaging for all
After the one-week trial is concluded, KLM plans to offer three distinct packages for customers using its onboard WiFi services: messaging, surf and stream.
The messaging service will be free for all to use, and will allow passengers to make use of popular services such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and similar. For more data availability, passengers can upgrade for a fee to either the ‘surf’ or the ‘stream’ package.
While KLM doesn’t specify the prices for these services yet, it does note that upgrades will be available at any stage of the flight via the KLM Portal. Despite being a new provider, the Viasat-powered WiFi will utilize the same Portal as KLM’s intercontinental services, adding a touch of familiarity to the new addition.
KLM already offers WiFi on all its 787s and A330s, and is in the process of rolling its connectivity package out on its 777s. Currently, some 81% of the intercontinental fleet is WiFi equipped, and the airline says that number will be up to 100% by the first quarter of 2021.
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