Thursday, July 24, 2014

Skymark to offer free Wi-Fi on Airbus A330.

On July 23rd, Skymark Airlines (BC/SKY) revealed that they would begin offering complimentary wireless internet connection, dubbed Skymark Free Wi-Fi, on board their brand-new Airbus A330s (Skymark Airlines' first two Airbus A330s delivered.) from August 7th. It would become the first Japanese carrier to offer free in-flight Wi-Fi.
Airbus A330-343E JA330A arrives at Tokyo's Haneda. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

Service will be initiated with their third example, A330-343E JA330D, which is expected to be delivered within the next week or two. Skymark plans to have its first two A330s, which have already entered service (Skymark Airlines inaugurates Airbus A330 service.), retrofitted with Wi-Fi by the end of this year as well. Panasonic Avionics eXConnect will provide the service.

Passengers with smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers will be able to use the service to surf the web, check e-mail, and update their social media, however, Skymark says it is not suited for YouTube downloading, movie watching, or anything that uses large bandwidth. Skymark's A330s currently serve Tokyo/Haneda (HND/RJTT) – Fukuoka (FUK/RJFF), with Sapporo/New Chitose (CTS/RJCC) (Skymark moves up Sapporo Airbus A330 ops to August 1st.) to be added from August.

Japan Airlines (JL/JAL) only introduced their in-flight internet product JAL SKY Wi-Fi yesterday (JAL SKY Wi-Fi to be launched on July 23rd.), but passengers need to pay a fee upon establishing a connection to surf on their own. The service is currently available on routes from Haneda to Fukuoka, Hakodate (HKD/RJCH), and Osaka/Itami (ITM/RJOO). In other words, Skymark is offering free Wi-Fi on all-premium A330s at the cost of economy seats less expensive than JAL, which charges 1,000 JPY for similar Class J seats and offers Wi-Fi at a cost.

How will JAL, and ANA even more so, respond? The battle is getting only fiercer. Skymark announcing this news on JAL's in-flight Wi-Fi debut date is no coincidence.

Reference: Skymark Airlines, July 23rd. (PDF; in Japanese)
Reference: Aviation Wire, July 23rd. (in Japanese)

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