IAG becomes launch customer of Inmarsat’s European Aviation Network

The parent company of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling will be first to offer the game-changing EAN inflight connectivity service.

Inmarsat’s quest to transform the inflight experience for airline passengers has taken a giant leap forward after it signed a deal with the parent company of British Airways to provide flyers with broadband of unparalleled speed.

International Airlines Group (IAG), the sixth-biggest airline group in the world, will be the launch customer for Inmarsat’s revolutionary European Aviation Network (EAN) broadband service.

EAN, which Inmarsat will jointly operate with its partner Deutsche Telekom, will enable passengers on IAG’s airlines – Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling – to use their personal devices for internet browsing, streaming, gaming and other online services with unmatched high-capacity performance.

Installation has already commenced on the British Airways fleet, with three aircraft fitted to date.

Next level connectivity

EAN is a step up for the aviation industry. The first of its kind, it combines purpose-built, state-of-the-art satellite coverage with a complementary 4G LTE ground network. This combined connectivity platform will see Inmarsat’s multi-beam S-band satellite link with approximately 300 Deutsche Telekom ground towers. Aircraft will switch automatically between satellite and terrestrial connectivity using an on–board network communicator.

Designed for Europe’s busy skies, EAN will provide a high-speed, next-generation connectivity service across all 28 European Union states, plus Norway and Switzerland.

Trials were successfully conducted between Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom, alongside their technology partners Nokia and Thales, at the end of 2016, with test flights in the UK and live over-the-air connection achieved in Germany. 

International Airline Group

IAG’s involvement illustrates Inmarsat’s standing as the world’s premier provider of global satellite communications. IAG, Europe’s third-largest airline group in terms of revenue, plans to equip over 300 aircraft with EAN and aims to have 90% of its short haul fleet EAN-ready by early 2019.

Formed in 2011, after the merger of British Airways and Iberia, IAG comprises 548 aircraft flying to 268 destinations and carrying more than 100 million passengers each year.

British Airways is one of the world’s most iconic airlines. Based at Heathrow, one of world’s busiest international airports, it flies to 170 destinations across 70 countries. More than 40 million passengers fly on BA each year, consuming 35 million cups of tea, 36 million meals and 3.7 million bottles of wine a year.

Tracing its origins back to the birth of civil aviation (1919), BA has played a unique role in the development of air travel in the years that followed. It seems apt that it will also be a key part of the story as the next chapter of aviation is written.