Hawaiian Airlines started the process of rolling out free WiFi by SpaceX Starlink. This makes Hawaiian Airlines the first major US airline to provide satellite-based service to their customers.
Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram says “SpaceX has really cracked the code – literally, in terms of the technology – to be able to deliver a wide bandwidth of very high quality connectivity to an airplane with a global reach.”
The plan to offer complimentary WiFi from SpaceX comes after airlines are ramping up the availability of onboard internet. JetBlue Airways now offers free WiFi while last year, Delta Air Lines provided free internet for loyalty program passengers.
SpaceX’s vice president of Starlink business operations Chad Gibbs said “It really feels like an experience that should not be possible when you get on a commercial airline flight. And you’re able to connect to the internet and experience it in a way that’s similar, if not better, than what you can experience in your own home.”
He also added, “We now have a totally different paradigm, which is that we have incredible amounts of capacity and bandwidth that we can bring to the plane.”
Hawaiian Actively Installing Starlink
In April 2022, Hawaiian and SpaceX signed a deal as the airline looked into using the Starlink network. It consists of 5,000 satellites in low Earth orbit and has more than 2.3 million customers all over the globe. Before this deal, the airline didn’t offer inflight WiFi to its passengers.
It wasn’t disclosed how much was the value of the deal or the cost of installation of Starlink terminals on Hawaiian planes. Ingram, however, said that “the costs of this have gone down from what the early Wi-FI systems were.” He added that Hawaiian is “actively” adding Starlink terminals. Six have been completed on A321 planes so far. However, Hawaiian is still a long way to go. Hawaiian will have to add Starlink to its 18 A321 planes and 24 A330 aircraft later this year.