SpaceX’s Starlink to provide Wi-Fi on Hawaiian Airlines flights with free service for passengers

SpaceX will start providing wireless internet on Hawaiian Airlines flights from the Starlink satellite network as early as next year, a service the airline told CNBC it plans to offer to passengers for free.


The deal marks the first for Elon Musk’s space company with a major airline. Starlink is SpaceX’s network of about 2,000 satellites in low Earth orbit, designed to deliver high-speed internet to consumers and businesses anywhere on the planet.


Hawaiian’s plan for complimentary connectivity with Starlink could increase pressure on rivals to offer free Wi-Fi for travelers, something currently available on JetBlue Airways. For example, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said in 2018 that the airline wants to offer complimentary, high-speed Wi-Fi on its planes. It tested it on some flights in 2019.


SpaceX will start providing wireless internet on Hawaiian Airlines flights from the Starlink satellite network as early as next year, a service the airline told CNBC it plans to offer to passengers for free.


The deal marks the first for Elon Musk’s space company with a major airline. Starlink is SpaceX’s network of about 2,000 satellites in low Earth orbit, designed to deliver high-speed internet to consumers and businesses anywhere on the planet.


Hawaiian’s plan for complimentary connectivity with Starlink could increase pressure on rivals to offer free Wi-Fi for travelers, something currently available on JetBlue Airways. For example, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said in 2018 that the airline wants to offer complimentary, high-speed Wi-Fi on its planes. It tested it on some flights in 2019.


Mannis didn’t specify what internet speed SpaceX advertised that Starlink would deliver on the planes, but said that “the kinds of performance that they have been talking about and have demonstrated have been very impressive.”


In a news release from Hawaiian, Jonathan Hofeller, vice president of Starlink commercial sales at SpaceX, also touted the product’s performance, “Hawaiian Airlines is ensuring its passengers will experience high-speed internet the way we expect it in the 21st century, making hassles like downloading movies before takeoff a relic of the past.”


Mannis, the executive at Hawaiian, emphasized that SpaceX’s vision for inflight internet “is quite different” than other competing satellite broadband providers, saying the goals for Starlink are that service “should be fast, and it should be frictionless, and it should be free.”


SpaceX last year said it was in contact with several airlines to provide inflight service.

Last week, semi-private charter flights provider JSX said it reached a deal for Starlink Wi-fi, the first carrier to do so. SpaceX currently has about 250,000 total Starlink subscribers, which includes both consumers and enterprise customers. Users pay $110 a month for the standard service and $500 a month for the premium tier, in addition to hardware fees.


Hawaiian is scheduled to report quarterly results after the market closes on Tuesday.


This article originally appeared on CNBC

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