Alaska Airlines will invest $25 million in upgrading its fleet of E175s with in-flight WiFi.
Alaska Airlines has announced that it will implement WiFi services on its regional fleet. The airline will use satellite WiFi systems to give all passengers access to in-flight wireless internet regardless of what aircraft they are on. The announcement comes as the airline nears completion of its project to implement WiFi services on every mainline plane in its fleet. It expects every Alaska Airlines passenger to have WiFi access within the next four years.
Over the past decade, internet aboard airliners has become a common feature that is sought after by passengers. Due to the high customer satisfaction with wireless internet being offered aboard flights, many airlines have invested millions of dollars into equipping their fleets with in-flight WiFi technology. These efforts have focused primarily on airlines’ mainline fleets, typically starting with their largest aircraft that fly the longest routes.
Photo: Joe Kunzler | Simple flying
Four of the largest airlines in the US, American, Delta, United, and Alaska Airlines, all utilize smaller regional airlines to operate routes to smaller airports and routes with less demand. As the airlines have upgraded their mainline fleets with enhanced in-flight connectivity services, the regional airlines have been left behind as they operate on smaller margins and do not have the funds to upgrade their fleets with such services. This has led many passengers to go without in-flight WiFi despite having booked a flight with a major airline.
Alaska Airlines has noted this issue and has chosen to undergo the costly venture to have its regional operators’ aircraft equipped with WiFi technology to adequately address its customers’ needs. Alaska will be the first major airline to integrate such technology into its regional jets. The project will cost the airline an estimated $25 million. The new service will debut with Horizon Air, a regional airline that operates solely for Alaska Airlines. The new service will be rolled out across its fleet of Embraer E175s as the airline is working to build an all-jet fleet as Horizon is phasing out its fleet of Bombardier Dash 8s.
Following the debut, Alaska plans to roll out the service on the other regional airline it partners with, SkyWest Airlines. While SkyWest is far larger than Horizon, only a small portion of its fleet operates on behalf of Alaska, as SkyWest has agreements with all four US airlines that utilize regional air services. Alaska anticipates the technology will be fully rolled out across its fleet by 2026.
The airline has partnered with Intelsat, a satellite internet company, to complete this project. Intelsat’s WiFi connection system utilizes an electronically steered array (ESA) which is a small, lightweight antenna. This allows the aircraft to connect to traditional geostationary satellites (GEO) and low Earth orbit satellites (LEO). These two connections will enable the airline to offer faster, more reliable network connections.
Photo: Joe Kunzler | Simple flying
The Senior Vice President of Marketing and Guest Experience for Alaska Airlines, Sangita Woerner, shared how the new offering will help modernize the airline’s fleet and enhance its customer experience. Woerner stated,
“Bringing a streaming-fast satellite Wi-Fi solution to our regional jets is another key investment in modernizing our fleet, emphasizing innovation and taking care of our guests changing needs,”With the growth in remote work, we know staying connected at 34,000 feet is more important than ever. Intelsat’s new system will give our guests the peace of mind that no matter whether it’s a short flight or longer journey, there will be reliable, affordable and convenient Wi-Fi. It’s just another way we show care in the air.”
What do you think of Alaska Airlines equipping its regional fleet with WiFi services? Let us know in the comments below.
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Anchorage International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Portland International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
- Year Founded:
- Ben Minicucci
- United States