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Published on Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Norwegian claims industry first with free wi-fi on long-haul flights

Norwegian is claiming to be the first low-cost airline to introduce free wi-fi on intercontinental flights, including services to the US, South America and Asia.

It will also offer a faster, paid-for connection for passengers who want to stream movies.

The airline said more than 50% of its Dreamliner 787 fleet will offer free wi-fi by 2020.

Norwegian became the first airline to offer free wi-fi on all European routes in 2011, and the first to offer live TV in 2015.

Its wi-fi service is now being extended to flights between Europe and the US, South America and Asia on its 787-9 Dreamliners and 737 MAX aircraft.

The first 787 offering wi-fi was delivered in mid-December and the roll-out on Norwegian's 737 MAX aircraft will begin in mid-January.

Norwegian economy and Premium customers on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and 737 MAX will have the choice of two inflight wi-fi package: basic, offering free internet access with a speed fast enough to surf the web, use social media and send and receive emails and instant messages using their own devices, and premium, which is fast enough to stream music, movies and TV shows. The high-speed option costs from €12.95 for three hours.

Vice president business development Boris Bubresko: "We're continuously improving the inflight customer experience and we're delighted to be the first airline offering free Wi-Fi for the full duration of long-haul flights.

"Millions of Norwegian customers have already enjoyed free Wi-Fi over the skies of Europe and now long-haul passengers can continue to rely on free and high-speed internet connectivity that will enhance and personalise their journeys.

"From being the first European airline to launch free wi-fi on all short-haul flights followed by free live television, Norwegian's roll-out of high-quality inflight broadband services will offer business and leisure travellers even greater value at affordable fares."

Norwegian is using the wireless inflight connectivity platform, CabinConnect by Collins Aerospace, which uses the Inmarsat Global Aviation (GX) satellite network.

LeAnn Ridgeway, vice president of information management services at Collins Aerospace said: "We are collaborating with Norwegian to achieve their vision of optimising their aircraft and enterprise operations to address both cabin and flight deck requirements, as well as adding new capabilities for the future."

Inflight Wi-Fi works via an antenna fitted to each aircraft fuselage which communicates with Inmarsat's GX satellite network.

In the UK, Norwegian currently operates 15 nonstop long-haul routes from London Gatwick to Austin, Boston, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami (from March 31), New York, Orlando, Rio de Janeiro (from March 31), San Francisco (from April 1) Seattle, Singapore and Tampa.

In 2019, Norwegian will take delivery of five brand new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and 19 737 MAX aircraft. Norwegian currently operates 24 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners as part of its overall Dreamliner fleet of 32 aircraft.

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