Latvian flag carrier airBaltic has announced that its entire Airbus A220-300 fleet will be equipped with SpaceX’s Starlink, an in-flight internet connectivity system. Passengers flying with the airline will be able to access high-speed satellite internet at no extra cost.  

airBaltic Airbus A220-300
airBaltic A220-300 aircraft © airlinesfleet.com

A Forward-Thinking Move

airBaltic will be the first European airline to provide a free in-flight WiFi system using SpaceX’s much-heralded system. Martin Gauss, Chief Executive Officer at airBaltic, commented on the airline’s dedication to technological improvement:

“This marks a historic moment for our airline and the industry as a whole. Soon airBaltic will become the first airline in Europe to launch high-speed, unlimited, and free-of-charge satellite internet on board. We are excited to further improve our service to our passengers who will soon benefit from this internet connectivity onboard our flights within the airBaltic network in Europe and beyond.”

Existing customers of Starlink’s connectivity system include Hawaiian Airlines and JSX, an independent air carrier that serves Mexico and the United States.

Starlink Provides Global Connectivity for the Aviation Industry

Starlink is a global satellite internet service operated by SpaceX, launched in October 2020 by CEO Elon Musk. Broadband connectivity is provided to customers via an expansive series of satellites which envelop the globe.

In October 2022, the company announced the launch of Starlink Aviation, a service that offers internet speeds of up to 350Mbps to commercial aircraft that are equipped with its unique Aero Terminal.

Starlink's Aero Terminal
Starlink’s Aero Terminal is positioned on the aircraft exterior and features an electronically steered phased array antenna © Starlink

Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX’s Vice President of Starlink sales, said on the partnership,

“With Starlink’s high-speed, low-latency internet, airBaltic passengers will have internet similar to or better than what they experience at home. Customers will walk on the plane, and the internet will simply work, making the stress of login pages and downloading large files before takeoff a thing of the past.”

The airline has announced that they will work closely with SpaceX throughout 2023 to ensure they have achieved the required STC (supplemental type certification). They expect to begin a fleet-wide installation as soon as possible.

What do you think of this decision to invest in this satellite connectivity service? How do you think it will affect the future of the in-flight experience? Let us know in the comments below.

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