SAS to install ViaSat connectivity on short and medium-haul fleet

A passenger using an iPad on an aircraft with inflight connectivity.SAS is to install Viasat’s Ka-band inflight connectivity on its short and medium-haul fleet as part of a full cabin upgrade.

By partnering with ViaSat, SAS will be able to offer onboard Wi-Fi speeds of 12 Mbps and higher to each passenger, with streaming TV, music and movies.

Rickard Gustafson, President and CEO of SAS, said: “Many of our customers are frequent flyers and we play an important part in the lives of many people.

“The upgrade we implemented on our long haul aircraft gained a very positive reception and we are now upgrading our short and medium haul fleet, which will also include high-speed WiFi with speeds that enable time on board to be utilised for work or to relax and enjoy a streamed movie or TV series.

“As both passengers and crew on board are now  connected, we can take our personal service to greater heights while continuing to develop our digital, smart solutions that make life easier.”

Seamless Wi-Fi Experience

SAS says it is committed to delivering a seamless Wi-Fi travel experience where passengers can access all of their content and information from anywhere: at home, at the airport or on board.

The new onboard high-speed Wi-Fi service gives passenger’s gate-to-gate internet access with the fastest speed available on the market.

In addition to streaming, social media and traditional workplace applications, passengers can also expect to get better assistance from the cabin crew, which have been recently equipped with iPad Minis that will be connected to the W-iFi system.

With new high-speed Wi-Fi capabilities SAS crew will be able to access flight and passenger information – before take-off, during the flight and after the flight lands.

This includes helping passengers check if their flight is on time to the status of connecting flights, check their EuroBonus account or even book a EuroBonus flight, shop in the EuroBonus store, rent a car, book a taxi to meet them at the airport or even tell SAS crew members what they thought of the service – all while on board.

The first aircraft with the new WiFi-system will enter service in the second half of 2017. Onboard Wi-Fi will be free on short haul flights for all SAS EuroBonus members and SAS Plus ticket holders.

Mark Dankberg, chairman and CEO, ViaSat, said: “In working with SAS, we are making the internet accessible, fast and easy-to-use at 35,000 feet. Only by coupling the ViaSat end-to-end service platform with Eutelsat’s European Ka-band satellite connectivity, can we enable airlines, like SAS, to offer a best-in-class onboard Wi-Fi service in Europe for free to EuroBonus-members and SAS Plus passengers.”

Cabin connectivity upgrades

The first aircraft with the refreshed cabin interior will be SAS’s new A320neo, which in addition to extra leg room, new and more comfortable seats, a lighting system that aligns with the time of day and USB outlets at seats to keep personal devices charged, will also offer 15-20% lower fuel consumption.

The interior design is in line with the new cabin offered on SAS long haul routes, which was launched in 2015. The new interior quickly became very popular with both Scandinavian and international customers.

In addition to 30 new A320s, 70 existing cabins will also be upgraded between 2017 and mid-2019. The Wi-Fi onboard and cabin upgrades are expected to amount to a total investment of approximately MSEK 500 over a three-year period.

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