Panasonic Avionics has announced that China Telecom Satellite (CTS) has extended the Ku-band inflight connectivity trial for another year allowing room to serve more than 1,000 aircraft.

This gives an added boost to Panasonic’s Global Coverage, in a highly regulated and otherwise inaccessible airspace in a critical growth market.

The license covers over 20 airlines and more than 1,000 planes which could fly over Chinese airspace while enjoying high-speed Wi-Fi.

Panasonic avionics broadbandChina Eastern Airlines, in partnership with CTS, was the first Chinese airline to offer Wi-Fi on domestic flights. The airline installed Panasonic’s eXConnect inflight connectivity system on its newest Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Panasonic’s eXConnect service over China was first adopted by 12 foreign airlines, with 200 planes already offering Wi-Fi over this region. Three Chinese-registered airlines also offer Panasonic high-speed Wi-Fi on 30 connected planes which fly in and out of China.

Panasonic’s Chinese airline customers, including China Eastern Airlines, Xiamen Air, Hainan Airlines and China Southern Airlines are getting ready to offer Wi-Fi around the globe using Panasonic IFEC technology.

“We have worked closely with China Telecom Satellite for the past several years to support connected flights over China with our global broadband service,” says David Bruner, Vice President Global Communications Services for Panasonic. “[This] announcement is the next step in this special partnership, and we look forward to working with China Telecom Satellite over the months ahead to roll this service out across our approved international customer base.”

Beyond delivering high-speed Wi-Fi to passengers, eXConnect In-Flight Connectivity gives airlines options to improve cabin services with connected crew using tablets to recognise the VIP passengers who need extra care, and allowing for creative in-flight retailing along the lines of Finnair’s buy and fly offering.

It’s All Fine for Finnair

Finnair, which has made routes to Asia a core part of its growth strategy, is among the airlines to have selected Panasonic Avionics connectivity for its fleet.

First introduced on the airline’s A350 aircraft, it will be introduced to Finnair’s A330 long-haul planes this October and available on all Finnair’s long-haul fleet by May of next year.

“In May 2017, our customers will be able to enjoy wireless network connection onboard all of our long-haul fleet. In addition to Internet access, we will have a broad offering of inflight entertainment, shopping opportunities, real-time news content and other additional services in Finnair’s free of charge Nordic Sky portal,” says Piia Karhu, SVP, Customer Experience Development.

Finnair will offer its Wi-Fi services free to Business class, loyalty Finnair Plus Gold and Platinum customers, and oneworld Sapphire and Emerald level customers customers.

Economy passengers can buy Wi-Fi access onboard for 5 Euros an hour, or for the duration of the flight for a fee of 15 Euros.

Finnair plans to offer Wi-Fi on the majority of its wide and narrow body planes in future.

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