Last updated: 07:00 PM ET, Wed September 23 2015

European Short-Haul Flights to Get High-Speed Internet

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | September 23, 2015

European Short-Haul Flights to Get High-Speed Internet

Germany’s Lufthansa Airlines has been chosen as the first European carrier to give high-speed internet access a trial run on short- and medium-haul flights.

The combined satellite and air-to-ground network is being built by Britain's Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom.

Lufthansa said the first aircraft will be fitted with the new technology in early summer 2016.

"Lufthansa has always been a pioneer of Internet services on board its aircraft,” Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said in a statement. “Having equipped all planes in the Lufthansa intercontinental fleet with our successful FlyNet system, we are now continuing our success story by providing Internet on board our short and medium-haul flights. We are therefore the first airline in Europe able to offer its guests an Internet surfing experience boasting the same quality and speed as they are used to at home."

Lufthansa operated the world's first scheduled flight with broadband Internet access in January of 2003. Although it was increasing in popularity among passengers, it had to be suspended in 2006 because the necessary satellites were no longer in operation. Since December 2010, Lufthansa once again offers broadband Internet access on its intercontinental flights.

The satellite issue shouldn’t be a problem this time around. Inmarsat recently had a third successful satellite launch, adding to its network, and Lufthansa will be its first aviation customer. The service will enable passengers to make the most of broadband Internet access on their own mobile devices via a wireless network. They will not only be able to use simple email services, but also applications and even streaming.

Pricing for the Internet will vary depending on cabin selection and cost of airfare.

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