AirBaltic to Introduce Free High-Speed Starlink Wi-Fi

Air Baltic A220 YL-CSG in Vienna

Latvian airline, airBaltic today announced that it will install Starlink wi-fi technology on all of its Airbus A220 aircraft. This will mean that passengers can enjoy faster wi-fi from boarding to deboarding without login pages or payment. The announcement came just a little after the airline started its first Green Sale of the year.

airBaltic will become the first European airline to partner with Starlink. They will join Hawaiian Airlines and JSX to offer such a service. Free wi-fi is also a rare sight nowadays on airplanes and it will be interesting whether airlines like airBaltic can start a change.

“High Speed, Low Latency”: Technical Details

In the press release and on Starlink’s website, one can see the phrases “high-speed” and “low-latency” quite often. As SpaceX’s satellites cruise at a lower altitude than conventional satellites, the service is able to provide higher speeds with lower latency. They claim that Starlink is able to deliver 350 Mbps speeds with a latency of 20 ms. Latency (or ping) means the delay in transmitting the data.

What makes this news special is that airBaltic will offer this service for free. This is quite generous when Starlink’s Google excerpt says that the installation cost is US$150,000 (~€138,393) and the monthly fee ranges from US$12,500 (~€11,533) to US$25,000 (~€23,066), although these are likely catalogue prices without including discounts.

The airline writes in the statement, that it needs STC (supplemental type certification) approval before it could install the service on its fleet. Starlink’s website advertises itself with “minimal downtime” which can be “combined well” with routine maintenance checks.

airBaltic?

airBaltic is a Latvian airline, which has its hub in Riga. It also has bases in Tallinn (Estonia), Vilnius (Lithuania) and Tampere (Finland). They have an extensive route network in the Baltics and Nordics optimised for mostly connecting traffic. They operate on a hybrid model: they don’t offer free food, but allow hand luggage for example.

The airline has recently converted its fleet to Airbus A220-300 aircraft only. These have a 2-3 configuration with a flexible business class cabin in front (the left aisle and the right middle seats are blocked). They frequently offer sales such as the current Green Sale. What’s even better is that you can match an SAS, Finnair or Miles & More status:

Cover Picture: Miklós Budai

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