Korean Air has selected Viasat as the inflight connectivity provider for its upcoming fleet of Airbus A321neo aircraft, marking the airline’s first foray into onboard wi-fi. The South Korean flag carrier is due to take delivery of 30 A321neos by 2027 as part of a fleet modernisation plan, all of which will be line-fitted with the required connectivity equipment. These aircraft will be operated on short and mid-haul flights between the airline’s main hub in Seoul and destinations across the Asia region.
The deal represents a large investment, but one which the airline believes will pay off due to evolving market needs post-Covid. Indeed Viasat says that Korean Air selected its service in direct response to Inmarsat’s 2022 Passenger Experience Survey (Viasat completed its acquisition of Inmarsat on 30th May, 2023), which found that 89% of South Korean respondents would be more likely to rebook with an airline if quality inflight wi-fi was available – compared to 82% globally.
There is clearly above average demand in the South Korea market high-speed inflight wi-fi, for uses such as browsing the internet, connecting with social media, streaming video and audio, working, and shopping online.
“Today marks an important milestone for Korean Air, as we embark on our first inflight connectivity partnership. Our selection process started in 2018 and we’ve been focused on selecting the right solution that meets our business needs and can help us realise the untapped potential of our onboard experience,” said Kenneth Chang, Korean Air’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer.
The selection was secured in partnership with hardware provider Safran Passenger Innovations (SPI), which helped develop the solution required by Korean Air. This included combining inflight connectivity (IFC) airtime and Safran’s Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) hardware. This partnership will enable Korean Air to extend its digital passenger journey, providing opportunities for direct engagement with passengers as well as enhancing the inflight experience.
“The new connectivity system will be a fundamental part of our digital strategy and customer experience going forward,” added Chang. “Coupled with the advanced features of our fuel-efficient, next-generation A321neo aircraft, we look forward to taking our passenger experience to the next level.”