Latvian low-cost airline, airBaltic, has announced that it will equip its entire fleet of Airbus A220-300 aircraft with SpaceX’s Starlink internet connectivity system. The airline will work with SpaceX to achieve the necessary STC (supplemental type certification) approval, and airBaltic expects to begin installing the required hardware on the A220s this year.
Every passenger in each of the 145-seat aircraft (50 including A220s on order) will be able to access complimentary high-speed internet from the moment they walk onto the plane and during their flights, with no need to navigate login pages.
Starlink provides low-latency broadband internet in more than 40 countries, and the company began serving the commercial aircraft inflight connectivity sector last year. Starlink’s satellites are positioned in low-Earth orbit (LEO) at an altitude of 550km (342 miles) – over 65-times closer than conventional geostationary satellites, which helps achieve lower latency and higher transmission speeds for end-users. SpaceX says it can deliver up to 350Mbps to aircraft, and with latency of 20ms, passengers can engage in relatively data-intense activities such as online gaming and virtual private networks.
“This marks a historic moment for our airline and the industry as a whole. Soon airBaltic will become the first airline in Europe to launch high-speed, unlimited, and free-of-charge satellite internet on board,” said Martin Gauss, CEO of airBaltic. “We are excited to further improve our service to our passengers who will soon benefit from this internet connectivity onboard our flights within the airBaltic network in Europe and beyond… Having the most modern aircraft type on the market, it was the next logical step for airBaltic to implement the most modern available inflight internet solution on this fleet.”
SpaceX’s VP of Starlink sales, Jonathan Hofeller, added that “By becoming the first European airline to implement Starlink fleetwide, airBaltic is setting a new standard in ensuring its passengers have an internet experience that they have come to expect in our modern age. With Starlink’s high-speed, low-latency internet, airBaltic passengers will have internet similar to or better than what they experience at home.”