Hawaiian Airlines using Starlink to deliver complimentary Wi-Fi for all passengers

In a significant development that marks a new era in inflight connectivity, Hawaiian Airlines has announced the launch of complimentary Wi-Fi service on its commercial flights, powered by SpaceX’s Starlink. This initiative positions Hawaiian Airlines as the pioneering major U.S. carrier to offer passengers high-speed internet access through the cutting-edge satellite-based technology provided by SpaceX. The collaboration between the airline and SpaceX was disclosed in an exclusive interview with CNBC, underlining the transformative impact this service is expected to have on the inflight experience.

Peter Ingram, the CEO of Hawaiian Airlines, expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership, highlighting the technological breakthroughs achieved by SpaceX that enable the provision of high-quality, wide bandwidth connectivity with global reach to aircraft. This service is anticipated to redefine the standards of connectivity on airplanes, offering an experience akin to or surpassing that of ground-based internet access.

The move by Hawaiian Airlines comes amid a broader industry trend where airlines are enhancing their connectivity offerings. Competitors like JetBlue Airways and Delta Air Lines have also made strides in providing free Wi-Fi services onboard, signaling a growing emphasis on ensuring passengers remain connected during their flights. Hawaiian’s distinctive network, covering the Pacific Ocean with routes to the mainland U.S., Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and other destinations, stands to benefit significantly from this upgrade, especially given the lack of inflight Wi-Fi options in its fleet prior to this announcement.

Starlink Aviation on Hawaiian Airlines aircraft

Image courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines

SpaceX’s Vice President of Starlink Business Operations, Chad Gibbs, shared insights into the capabilities of the Starlink network, which boasts over 5,000 satellites in low Earth orbit and serves more than 2.3 million customers globally. The company’s focus on delivering unprecedented capacity and bandwidth to airplanes is set tos the passenger experience, making high-speed internet access on flights a new norm.

The financial details of the deal between Hawaiian Airlines and SpaceX remain undisclosed, including the cost of installing the aviation-specific Starlink terminals on each aircraft. However, Ingram hinted at a more cost-effective setup compared to earlier inflight Wi-Fi systems. Hawaiian Airlines has already equipped six of its Airbus A321 planes with Starlink terminals and plans to extend the service to 18 A321 jets and 24 A330 aircraft later this year.

This ambitious project encountered initial delays as SpaceX worked on launching additional next-generation satellites and securing necessary certifications from the Federal Aviation Administration. Nevertheless, the certification process has progressed, with SpaceX obtaining approvals for various aircraft types and already providing the service on over 30,000 flights across the U.S. and globally.

The announcement of Starlink Wi-Fi on Hawaiian Airlines flights follows the airline’s recent acquisition agreement with Alaska Airlines, valued at $1.9 billion, further highlighting the dynamic changes within the aviation industry.

For more details on this transformative partnership and its implications for the future of inflight connectivity, visit CNBC or Hawaiian airlines newsroom