Cathay Pacific Airways is set to become the first airline in Asia to offer full broadband services on all flights following a deal with Panasonic.
The pair have signed a memorandum of understanding for the provision of services, with passengers now expecting to access the internet in 2012.
While final terms are still being negotiated, the move allows both parties to begin developing a plan to provide connectivity for passengers together with promotional, sponsorship and e-commerce opportunities.
Alex McGowan, head of product for Cathay Pacific, said: “Connectivity will form an important part of our overall customer proposition.
“Having that connectivity integrated closely with our video on demand entertainment system is especially valuable as it means that all passengers will be able to use the service.
The Hong Kong-based airline will offer fliers access to a 50Mbps internet stream via satellite to aircraft.
The stream will be split between passenger internet service and crew applications, such as the transmission of real-time flight data back to the airline’s base of operations.
The connectivity solution for will comprise the eXConnect broadband service, eXPhone GSM phone service, and a CX-branded free-of-charge entertainment portal - accessible through all passenger devices and seatback screens - that will include a range of content updated during the flight, access to airline and partner sites, e-commerce, airline-specific advertising, and live television with a unique pay-per-view capability for special events.
Charles Ogilvie, executive director in China for Panasonic Avionics Corporation, added: “We are very proud and thrilled to be working with Cathay Pacific.
“We are committed to serving the needs of the ever-growing markets in China and Asia. With Panasonic Avionics’ Global Communications Services, Cathay Pacific will be the first airline in Asia to offer passengers the most innovative in-flight entertainment and communication options onboard commercial aircraft.”
Germany’s Lufthansa is, however, likely to beat Cathay Pacific to the punch, with plans to launch in-flight internet access on some of its routes in the next few months.
The majority of its long-haul fleet is set to be equipped with the service by the middle of 2011.
Cathay Pacific Airways and Panasonic Avionics Corporation have enjoyed a close relationship since 1994.