Qantas says it has installed inflight internet WI-FI on 15 Boeing 737-800s as it prepares to live stream this summer’s Ashes cricket series, while work on equipping its fleet of domestic A330 aircraft with connectivity to commence in early 2018.
The airline said on Friday it expected to have 80 aircraft – a combination of 737-800s and A330s – fitted with the technology to offer WI-FI on domestic flights by the end of 2018.
Qantas began offering WI-FI on its Australian services in April, starting with one 737-800, VH-XZB. The airline has partnered with ViaSat and the National Broadband Network for its inflight internet service, which uses the high capacity Ka-band satellites and is offered free to all passengers.
Since the official launch, the oneworld alliance member has been gradually equipping more aircraft with the necessary hardware, such as a radome located to the rear of the fuselage just in front of the tail, and conducting more tests on the technology.
“The customer trial on our first WI-FI aircraft helped us fine-tune the system and we’re pleased to be switching the system on across the domestic fleet,” Qantas chief customer officer Olivia Wirth said in a statement.
“When it is complete, 15 million passengers a year will be able to stay connected in the air.”
Qantas has 67 Australian registered 737-800s that operate on domestic and international routes. In addition, eight New Zealand-registered ZK- 737 are flown by Qantas’s New Zealand subsidiary Jetconnect.
The oneworld alliance member was working through details for its international operations.
Qantas also announced on Friday a partnership with Cricket Australia to offer live coverage of the upcoming Ashes Test series between Australia and England, as well as international limited overs and Twenty20 matches featuring both the national men’s and women’s side. Domestic Twenty20 matches are also part of the arrangement, which covers 75 matches in total.
Also, a dedicated channel on Qantas’s inflight entertainment system will launch in January with features on memorable Ashes cricket matches, player profiles and match highlights from the archives.
The airline is a Cricket Australia sponsor.
Separately, Qantas said passengers on WI-FI available aircraft would now have free access to streaming service Netflix for three months. Existing customers of Netflix would also be able to get three months free on their current accounts.
Previously, Qantas and Netflix were offering a free 30-day trial.
Virgin Australia, which also started offering connectivity on one 737-800 in April, has said previously it was in the process of installing WI-FI on its 737-800s, with the majority of the fleet to be equipped by the end of 2018.
Also, the airline said in early November it expected to be offering inflight internet WI-FI on international flights between Australia and Los Angeles on board one Boeing 777-300ER before the end of 2017. It will be the only Australian airline to offer WI-FI on international services.