Lufthansa relaunches inflight FlyNet Internet service

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Lufthansa relaunches inflight FlyNet Internet service

Unread post by bimjim » Wed Dec 01, 2010 ... =nl_atw_dn

Lufthansa relaunches inflight FlyNet Internet service
Christine Boynton
December 1, 2010

Lufthansa FlyNet Intercontinental aboard an A330, economy class. Photo: By Jens Goerlich. Courtesy, LH.

Lufthansa relaunched its FlyNet inflight Internet service after a four-year suspension Tuesday, becoming the first airline to offer passengers broadband Internet access on intercontinental routes. Initially, it will be available on select North Atlantic routes, with LH planning to deploy it throughout its intercontinental network by the end of 2011. LH previously offered broadband connectivity via the Connexion by Boeing product that Boeing cancelled.

ATW filed this report at 30,000 ft. onboard an LH Airbus A330 Frankfurt-New York JFK flight, the first featuring the revived FlyNet service. Six additional A330s equipped for the service, provided through the carrier's partners Panasonic Avionics Corp. and Deutsche Telekom, will launch Wednesday on flights from FRA to JFK, Detroit and Atlanta.

"Inflight Internet onboard our long-haul flights is an innovation in the interests of our customers," said LH Board Member Thierry Antinori, who is expected to be named the new CEO of Austrian Airlines (see item below). "FlyNet complements the consistent communications service offering for Lufthansa customers at all points of the travel chain."

The service will initially allow wireless Internet access for WLAN-enabled laptops and smartphones, with GSM capability to be added early next year. Voice calls will not be enabled.

"We are very excited to announce that our Global Communications Suite is operational, initially on transatlantic flights offered by Lufthansa, our launch customer," said Panasonic Avionics CEO Paul Margis. The company said it has received regulatory approval for its inflight connectivity offering from 200 countries and expects Russia and China to grant approval in the 2011 first quarter. In addition to LH, it has contracts with Turkish Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Dragonair and Gulf Air.

LH previously operated FlyNet via Connexion by Boeing from May 2004 to the end of 2006, when Boeing discontinued the service (ATW Daily News, Oct. 13, 2009). By the end of 2006 LH had 69 aircraft equipped with FlyNet; afterward, with an eye toward an eventual restart in the future, the carrier chose to not remove existing antennas. Of the 69 aircraft with antennas, 10 have so far been readied for the service. The carrier aims to have 20 up and running with FlyNet by the end of February.

The service will initially cost €10.95 ($14.45) for one hour (or 3,500 miles), or a flat rate of €19.95 for 24 hours (or 7,000 miles). Telekom mobile communications customers can use the hotspot under their existing cell phone contracts, paying a fee of €1.80 for every 10 min. LH is providing the service to passengers for free until Jan. 31. The carrier is hoping its 747-8s, slated for delivery next year, will offer FlyNet right away.

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