Inflight broadband goes live for Lufthansa Group

A strategic partnership between Inmarsat and Lufthansa Group sees the commercial service introduction of GX Aviation

The future, it’s often said, is unwritten. And while that might be broadly true, very occasionally, the future happens right before our eyes.

The commercial service introduction of Inmarsat’s inflight broadband solution, GX Aviation, on selected Lufthansa Group short haul and medium haul flights across Europe is one of these moments.

Because what this means is that passengers on Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines – with Lufthansa Group’s low-cost carrier Eurowings also set to introduce the service soon – will now have high speed internet access over the skies of Europe. The notion of passengers staying connected while on board – surfing the web, streaming videos or listening to their favourite album – is now a reality.

A groundbreaking service

It’s the result of a strategic and commercial partnership between Inmarsat and Lufthansa Group. So far, almost 80 Airbus A320 family aircraft from the Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Eurowings fleets have been fitted for GX Aviation.

Passengers can access the service on the device of their choice through the FlyNet portal. Three packages are available, allowing passengers to choose the appropriate tier depending on whether they want to stream videos, surf the web or simply send emails or use a messaging service. These are:

*FlyNet Message (€3)

*FlyNet Surf (€7)

*FlyNet Stream (€12)

Additionally, flyers will be able to take advantage of a 10-minute, 10 MB ‘Try FlyNet’ service so they can see the capabilities before they commit to buying a package. Payment can be made in multiple ways – from credit card to PayPal. Future plans include allowing payment through Lufthansa’s Miles & More frequent flyer points, as well as roaming offers supplied by Deutsche Telekom.

Mario Franci, Inmarsat Aviation’s Senior Vice-President of European Sales and Revenue and Inflight Services, describes the commercial introduction of GX Aviation as a landmark occasion for the aviation industry.

“It can seem at times that this industry is almost obsessed with what will come in the future,” he says. “And the talk often centres on the next generation of satellites and the next phase. With GX we can literally say that this service is the present and not the future. It’s very symbolic.”

The passengers are happy, as the first results of our tests show, and surfing and streaming above the skies of Europe is now a reality.

Speaking at a reception at Inmarsat’s London headquarters to celebrate the launch, Lufthansa’s Head of IFEC Technology, Floris Reimbold, is equally enthusiastic. He says: “It’s a great milestone. After such a long time of development, testing and preparation, it’s cool to see this baby now walking. The passengers are happy, as the first results of our tests show, and surfing and streaming above the skies of Europe is now a reality.”

A shared revenue initiative

One of the key aspects of the launch is the partnership between Inmarsat and the Lufthansa Group. This is a real partnership of equals with both sides of the venture invested jointly in its success. The deal is structured so that both earn from any revenue that the service makes.

“This is really a revenue share-based venture,” explains Franci. “We both have interest in the success of the service. Inmarsat and Lufthansa have designed the service together, we are promoting the service, servicing the passengers and maintaining the service going forwards.”

He continues: “It’s a proper partnership. Lufthansa is a very big airline group and it’s very significant that it has chosen Inmarsat in not just having a supply of connectivity, but a partnership to design the connectivity. I think that we all recognise that the industry, particularly in Europe, is still waiting to see how connectivity is going to develop. The fact that Lufthansa decided to go with Inmarsat and that we have defined what that service will be together is a really big achievement.” 

Setting a benchmark

"For the European aviation industry this is a major trigger,” says Franci. “The fact that the Lufthansa Group, with almost 300 aircraft, and more to come, will be offering a service that millions and millions of passengers can access will be a benchmark for the other airlines. I believe this is going to be a trigger that will accelerate many of the other airlines in Europe.”

The final word goes to Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation. He says: “Inmarsat congratulates the Lufthansa Group on the commercial service introduction of their advanced new inflight broadband service on short and medium haul flights, powered by GX Aviation. For the first time in Europe, passengers can access fast, consistent and reliable connectivity as they receive on the ground.

“We share the excitement of our launch customer, as this is a significant milestone for GX Aviation too, which took more than five years to develop as the world’s first in-flight broadband solution with seamless global coverage delivered through a single operator.”