Qantas scraps inflight wifi plan

01:25, Dec 04 2012

Qantas has scrapped its plans to provide wireless internet access on flights, citing a lack of interest from customers during a trial.

The trial, announced by chief executive Alan Joyce in December last year, ran for nine months and allowed passengers to access the internet on six of the airline's A380 superjumbos on long-haul flights to London and across the Pacific to Los Angeles.

A spokesman said that customer take-up of the wi-fi service on flights during the trial, which ended last month, was extremely low. He also said providing the service was expensive.

"Naturally, the costs associated with offering a reliable internet connection in-flight are significantly higher than on the ground, particularly when you are flying over vast expanses of ocean and can't connect to ground towers," he said.

Qantas charged between A$12.90 and A$39.90 for its data packages on board. The average take up of the service was less than five per cent, according to the airline.

The spokesman also said that, as most of the airline's A380 services operated at night, passengers preferred sleeping to surfing the web.


David Flynn, Fairfax blogger and editor of Australian Business Traveller, said that while inflight internet sounded alluring, it can be slow and expensive.

Flynn said Qantas was better off focusing on improvements that more passengers would appreciate.

The Qantas wi-fi system, provided by IT services company OnAir, ran on Inmarsat's "SwiftBroadband" technology, which uses satellite links from the aircraft to beam the data back to ground networks.

Emirates has introduced the same technology on its A380 superjumbos and currently provides wireless internet on board. It charges A$15 for 25MB using a laptop; A$7.50 for 5MB for mobile phones in all classes.

Singapore Airlines also offers wireless internet on board some flights, with price plans at US$25 (A$23.90) for 30 megabytes and US$10 for 10 megabytes.

Virgin Australia plans to have its in-flight entertainment on Samsung Galaxy tablet computers provided through an onboard wireless streaming service, but this would not include internet access.

The Age