China Airlines’ first Airbus A321neo aircraft entered commercial service on 27 March, offering an enhanced onboard experience that includes Inmarsat’s high-speed GX Aviation inflight Wi-Fi, allowing passengers to browse the internet, stream video and audio, shop online and catch-up with work, all from the comfort of their seat. GX Aviation proved a hit during the inaugural flight from Taoyuan to Hong Kong, with access provided via the Internet ONAIR solution from Inmarsat’s partner SITA, which has also been selected as connectivity service provider by the Taiwan national carrier.
China Airlines has ordered a total of 25 Airbus A321neos as part of a narrow-body fleet replacement programme that aims to transform its onboard experience, support its regional network expansion and meet long-term growth in passenger volumes. All of the aircraft will be equipped with Inmarsat’s GX Aviation and SITA’s Internet ONAIR, alongside other new cabin features such as fully-flat seats in Premium Business Class, the latest inflight entertainment system, and 4K high-solution displays.
GX Aviation will enable the airline to meet soaring demand for inflight connectivity as passengers return to the skies following the Covid-19 pandemic. Inmarsat‘s latest Passenger Confidence Tracker, the largest global survey of its kind since the pandemic began, found that 41% of the 10,000+ respondents believe having Wi-Fi on flights is even more important now than before Covid-19, allowing them to stay connected with friends and family, and supporting a touch-free environment.
Niels Steenstrup, Inmarsat Aviation’s Senior Vice President of Inflight Connectivity Business, said “We are delighted to welcome China Airlines as our latest GX Aviation inflight broadband customer, especially at a time when the carrier is welcoming millions of its passengers back to the skies. The fact that this is our second new airline customer announcement with SITA in recent months is testament to our successful partnership and also reinforces strong demand for our market-leading connectivity, despite the challenges that Covid-19 has presented to the aviation industry over the past two years.”
Katrina Korzenowski, Asia Pacific Vice President at SITA FOR AIRCRAFT, added “Providing a digital and touchless onboard experience will be the key to increasing passenger confidence as air travel recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. Our Internet ONAIR technology, coupled with Inmarsat’s GX Aviation connectivity, offers China Airlines the perfect blueprint for a world-class inflight broadband offering onboard its Airbus A321neo aircraft and we’re proud to be working together to achieve this. It also means that SITA is now providing a full suite of services, from cockpit to cabin, to China Airlines.”
GX Aviation is powered by Global Xpress (GX), the world’s first and only globally available broadband network, offering superior infight connectivity on par with mobile Wi-Fi on the ground. The GX network currently consists of five Ka-band satellites and will be further enhanced with the addition of seven more satellites as part of Inmarsat’s fully-funded technology roadmap. This includes two Inmarsat-6s, the most sophisticated commercial communications satellites ever built, both of which are scheduled to enter service next year. They will be followed by three additional satellites in geostationary orbit – adding speed, capacity and resilience – and two in highly elliptical orbit, enabling the world’s only commercial mobile broadband service for aircraft flying in higher elevations and across the Arctic.