Virgin Australia To Offer Wi-Fi Service on Domestic Flights

18th Dec 2014

The airline aims to become the first in the country to offer a wireless internet access on board its domestic flights across the country.

Judith Compton, the airline's COO, remarked that the country lags behind the rest of the world in terms of in-flight wireless internet service offering for its domestic network. The airline already offers the same service on international flights.

The airline has launched, early this year, entertainment content to its passengers streamed via wireless technology. The airline deemed it a success and wanted to tap the same wireless technology to offer internet access to its customers on board its domestic flights.

The airline executive further said that travelers nowadays want something more than pure entertainment content streamed to their device. They want total internet access via wireless technology to keep themselves updated on what is happening on the ground 32,000 feet from above.

Virgin Australia is said to have been in a discussion with officials from satellite providers, particularly NBN Co., as well as Optus and Telstra, for its planned in-flight wireless internet service.

Bill Morrow, NBN Co. CEO, admitted that they are indeed in talks with airlines to allow the use of its two satellites upon their launch next year. The two satellites will enable the population in far-flung regions across Australia to have wireless access to internet.

It is said to be very difficult for most airlines to offer in-flight wireless internet on domestic flights, as it eats up a large portion of the airline's operating costs. Test runs alone already cost millions of dollars.

While most US-based airlines offer Wi-Fi internet service across their domestic network using ground-based relay stations, it is considered impractical in Australia, as it is sparsely populated, which could therefore be a very expensive investment.

Qantas once offered similar service on its trans-Pacific flights but the disappointing take-up rate of less than 5% prompted the airline to terminate the service.