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Vistara to offer in-flight WiFi service by March-April

aviation | IST

Vistara to offer in-flight WiFi service by March-April

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Tata group's NELCO, in partnership with Panasonic Avionics, on Wednesday launched in-flight wi-fi services in India, with Vistara likely to be the first airline in the country to avail the facility.

Vistara Airlines, a joint venture of Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, is set to become the first domestic airline to offer in-flight communication services as it plans to offer internet connectivity on Boeing B787 aircraft by March-April. The airline will also offer in-flight internet connectivity on A321 aircraft as well.
"All the newly inducted A321 and B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft will come with the necessary equipment for introducing in-flight connectivity services. By 2021, we will have 10 aircraft with in-flight connectivity service," chief strategy officer Vinod Kannan told CNBC-TV18.
The airline has partnered with Tata group company Nelco and Panasonic Avionics for the same. Nelco, which launched its aero in-flight communication services in India today, will use GSAT-14 satellite of ISRO for this service.
The airline is currently in discussions with Panasonic Avionics and Nelco for pricing plan of in-flight connectivity service and has said that it will keep the sensitivity of the Indian market in mind while setting the pricing.
"Regulatory approvals happening at a fast pace. Scope and pricing of service under discussion. Hope to finalise the pricing plan between March to May," Kannan added.
The plan is to introduce in-flight broadband internet connectivity on long-haul international flights but the airline will also look at offering the service on domestic flights as well.
It is expected that the internet service will be differentiated into three parts, one is for basic data facility like WhatsApp, second will be for more data consumption services like YouTube and the third will be for live streaming services like Netflix.
"We are aware of the nature of the Indian market while setting the pricing of wifi services. We hope passengers will value what we bring to the table in in-flight connectivity," Kannan added.
The airline plans to induct four B787 in 2020 and two in 2021. The first B787 will be delivered this month and will be put to commercial operations next month. While the airline is still finalizing the first overseas destination for B787, it is expected that the international flight on B787 will take off in early summer.
"The government opened the license for In-flight maritime and communication (IFMC) services in Dec 2018. Our Martine communication got operational in Sep 2019 and today we have launched our aero in-flight communication services," managing director and CEO P J Math said.
The IFMC service will allow broadband internet services while flying over the Indian skies and sailing in Indian waters, both for international and Indian aircraft and vessels.
India gave a green signal to allow internet services in-flight in its airspace in May 2018 when the department of Telecom approved recommendations to allow data and voice services in flights over Indian airspace.
The license is granted against an annual fee of Re 1 for a period of 10 years and the permit holder has to pay licence fees and spectrum charges based on revenue earned from services.
"Many airlines offer free of charge WiFi to frequent flyers..many offer to all passengers on board..many offer a customized business model, this is for the airline to choose. There can be a premium package for streaming services like that for Netflix..each airline will set the base price for their services separately," Tom Eskola, Vice-president, Panasonic Avionics said
"It is up to the airline how to do the selling. Pricing is between the airline and service provider. We have rates that are applicable inside and outside of India. In low-cost carrier, Panasonic or Nelco can control the pricing model, in other cases, airlines to control the pricing," Eskola added.
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