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After multiple delays due to certification and installation issues, KLM is finally making good progress with the rollout of inflight internet. Next to the Dreamliner fleet, wifi is now also available on the first two Airbus A330 and Boeing 777 aircraft. Next to that, KLM introduces packages priced based on duration instead of data usage. Executive Vice President Customer Experience Boet Kreiken and Customer Journey Manager Flight Charles Hageman comment on KLM’s connectivity strategy in an interview with InsideFlyer.
This is a translation of: KLM Lanceert Internet op A330 en 777 met nieuwe Pakketten op Basis van Tijdsduur
Wifi has already been available on KLM’s entire Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner fleet. These aircraft were fitted in the factory with the required technology. For the existing fleet, it was necessary to modify the aircraft to install technology such as the antennas. Originally, the aim was to fit the entire longhaul fleet with inflight internet from the end of 2017. Together with Air France, KLM signed a large contract with Gogo to install wifi on the Boeing 777 and A330’s. Unfortunately Gogo encountered problems with the certification on the 777 and there were also technical issues with the aerodynamic interference of the radome on the A330 for which Airbus needed to provide an engineering solution. Because of these delays, external to KLM, the airline missed the installation window in the winter schedule. It was aimed to combine the wifi installation with the cabin upgrade.
In the meantime, all issues have been addressed and KLM is making progress with the rollout of wifi on the longhaul fleet. The first two A330-300’s, with registration PH-AKA and PH-AKB, now have connectivity by Gogo. Also in the first two Boeing 777-300ER’s, the PH-BVA and PH-BVK, passengers can go online.
In the remainder of this year KLM will focus on installing inflight internet on the 777 fleet. By the end of 2019, 15 triple-sevens should have wifi. In the first quarter of 2020, all 777-300ER’s should be modified and a year later the 777-200ER subfleet. By the end of 2021 the goal is to have the Airbus A330’s connected .
As the Boeing 747 will be completely phased out by 2021, no connectivity is installed on the Jumbojet.
The 787-10 aircraft, of which the first is to be delivered in a few months, will feature internet by Panasonic already from the factory.
From data usage to duration
In an earlier interview, Kreiken already hinted that KLM was planning to switch to internet packages based on duration instead of data usage in bytes. ‘An amount of MB’s is unclear to passengers and as most customer-centric airline we had to do something about it,’ says the executive. The change to time-based allowances has already been executed. KLM has chosen for the same passes and prices as partner Air France. There are three choices: the Surf pass is priced at €8 per hour or €18 for the entire flight. If you want a faster connection to download or stream, you can opt for the Stream pass at €30 for the entire flight. It is also possible to pay with Flying Blue miles. Presently there are not discounts or waivers for premium passengers. Next to the paid options, there will also be the free Messenger pass where passengers can send texts over Whatsapp, iMessage, Facebook Messenger and Wechat free of charge.
To prevent that the free Messenger packages use up too much bandwidth, sending photo’s and video’s through the messaging apps will be blocked, Hageman adds.
The packages based on duration are applicable on aircraft fitted with Gogo wifi. The 787’s and one 777, the PH-BVF, currently have wifi through Panasonic with data-based options. With the exception of the Stream pass, KLM will gradually introduce the time-based packages on these aircraft as well, which in the end makes it more attractive for the customer. At the time of writing, two Dreamliners have already been converted to the new plans. By the end of next month this should be extended to the entire Dreamliner fleet. For the PH-BVF no time planning was given.
For passengers, the availability of wifi will initially not be a sure bet. KLM will communicate through its Flight Guide, which offers about three days before departure detailed information on the flight including the registration scheduled to operate the flight, if the aircraft will feature internet connectivity. From april there will also be a notification on the IFE screen. The Holland Herald magazine will also feature more information about the offerings and pricing.
Also for the shorthaul fleet, KLM is planning to introduce wifi. ‘The decision has been taken but we still have to see which party we will partner with. We are looking at all providers,’ says Kreiken. He did not provide a timeline for the introduction on the shorthaul fleet. As almost all European destinations are served by both KLM and KLM Cityhopper ‘KLM is obliged to install wifi on both the 737 and Embraer fleet’. The airline foresees sufficient demand for internet on short flights.