Frontier Airlines In Talks With SpaceX Over Starlink Inflight WiFi
American low-cost carrier (LCC) Frontier Airlines has announced it is in talks with Elon Musk’s company SpaceX to provide Starlink WiFi onboard its aircraft. Let’s give a closer look at what the airline has in store.
Frontier Airlines’ CEO, Barry Biffle, has recently held talks with SpaceX, the company which owns Starlink, about the carrier’s potential interest in installing the product on its aircraft.
However, Frontier’s CEO announced that this interest would turn into reality only when Starlink’s cost became cheaper. Frontier, a low-cost carrier (LCC), does not currently provide its passengers with internet connection onboard its planes. Indeed, providing onboard WiFi implies different costs for an airline, which range from the weight of the hardware necessary to provide the service, which negatively impacts fuel consumption, to the qualified workforce required to install such hardware. Consequently, Frontier announced Starlink would need to be lightweight, compact, and cheap if the airline were to purchase it for its fleet.
Mr. Biffle is hopeful that, with the spread of the product on the market, the price of Starlink will progressively become cheaper:
We’re more hopeful now that with Starlink coming in there’s going to be some rationalization of cost and pricing.
Starlink current costs
Being Frontier Airlines a low-cost carrier, Starlink’s current high subscription cost does not match the airline’s business model focused on keeping costs down.
According to the company’s website, a monthly subscription to Starlink costs users $110; a maritime service is charged $5,000, while those who want to install Starlink on their boats or recreational vehicles (RVs) need to pay a monthly subscription of $135. If Frontier were to install Starlink on its fleet, Biffle announced it would provide internet connection at a cost. After all, Frontier is an LCC, for which every single ancillary product/service becomes a source of additional revenue; or, in Biffle’s words, Frontier has: no ancillary products that don’t make money
Although Frontier has shown interest in Musk’s innovation, the airline doesn’t need to rely on SpaceX to provide in-flight WiFi.
Indeed, if Starlink’s features will not mirror those required by Biffle, it is probable that Frontier will turn to other providers of in-flight WiFi. First of all, the airline has not set any timeline for the installation of onboard WiFi. Furthermore, Biffle underlined how in-flight internet connection is not a priority for the airline. Indeed, this kind of service is generally demanded by business travelers, who are however not Frontier’s core travel mix.
Frontier is the first low-cost carrier that has shown interest in Starlink to provide onboard WiFi. However, Starlink has already inked deals with Royal Caribbean cruises, Hawaiian Airlines, and a private jet service provider. SpaceX is also negotiating a deal with Delta Air Lines to provide fast in-flight internet connection onboard its aircraft. For the time being, however, Starlink has only been tested onboard Musk’s private jet.
Simple Flying reached out to Frontier for further comment. We will update the article with any additional announcements from the airline.