September 9, 2016 – Amid its 70th anniversary celebrations, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has announced that it is investing SEK 500 million (US$60 million) in upgrading the cabins of its entire short- and medium-haul fleet, including the installation of wi-fi systems. Through its partnership with ViaSat, SAS says it can offer onboard speeds of 12Mbps and higher to each passenger.
“Many of our customers are frequent flyers and we play an important part in the lives of many people. The upgrade we implemented on our long-haul aircraft gained a very positive reception and we are now upgrading our short- and medium-haul fleet, which will also include high-speed wi-fi with speeds that enable time onboard to be utilized for work or to relax and enjoy a streamed movie or TV series. As both passengers and crew onboard are now connected, we can take our personal service to greater heights while continuing to develop our digital, smart solutions that make life easier,” stated Rickard Gustafson, president and CEO of SAS.
The new onboard high-speed wi-fi service gives passenger’s gate-to-gate internet access. In addition to IFE streaming, social media and traditional workplace applications, passengers can also expect to get better assistance from the cabin crew, who have been recently equipped with iPad Minis that will be connected to the wi-fi system so they can access flight and passenger information before take-off, during the flight and after the flight lands. This includes helping passengers check if their flight is on time, checking the status of connecting flights, checking frequent flyer details, booking flights, doing some inflight shopping, renting a car, booking a taxi to meet them at the airport, or even telling SAS crew members what they thought of the service.
The first aircraft with the new wi-fi -system will enter service in the second half of 2017. Onboard wi-fi will be free on short-haul flights for all SAS EuroBonus members and SAS Plus ticket holders.
“Only by coupling the ViaSat end-to-end service platform with Eutelsat’s European satellite connectivity, can we enable airlines, like SAS, to offer a best-in-class onboard wi-fi service in Europe”, stated Mark Dankberg, chairman and CEO of ViaSat.
The first aircraft with the refreshed cabin interior will be SAS’s new A320neo, which will offer extra leg room, new and more comfortable seats, a lighting system that aligns with the time of day and USB outlets at seats to keep personal devices charged. The interior design is in line with the new cabin offered on SAS’s long-haul routes, which was launched in 2015.
In addition to 30 new A320s, 70 existing cabins will also be upgraded between 2017 and mid-2019. The wi-fi and cabin upgrades are expected to amount to a total investment of approximately (US$60 million) over a three-year period.