First Chinese airline flight equipped with Wi-Fi internet

An Air China Airbus A330 flying from Beijing to Chengdu has become the first Chinese airline flight equipped with passenger Wi-Fi internet access.

The aircraft used Inmarsat's SwiftBroadband service provided by the company's Chinese partner MCN.

The SwiftBroadband-based cabin Wi-Fi connectivity allowed all passengers to access the internet for web browsing, instant messaging and other applications.

Leading distributor

The move is the result of co-operation between Air China and MCN, Inmarsat's leading Chinese distributor.

The Chinese aviation regulator, the Chinese Aviation Authority of China (CAAC), was also closely involved in the project from the start to ensure that all necessary approvals were in place for the system and Inmarsat service.

“Inmarsat is delighted to have been selected by Air China for this important milestone in Chinese aviation,” said Miranda Mills, President of Inmarsat Aviation.

Regulatory approval

“This underlines Inmarsat's commitment to the Chinese market, and is the result of our on-going investments in SwiftBroadband, the appointment of our Chinese distribution partners and the work we have done together to gain regulatory approval for SwiftBroadband in China.”

Mr Yin Lin, Deputy Director General of MCN, said: “Supplying SwiftBroadband for this project is a result of MCN being approved and officially able to offer all Inmarsat services in China.

“MCN is proud to be the partner in this most important project, servicing the Chinese aviation market. This highlights MCN's commitment to developing state-of-the-art solutions utilising the SwiftBroadband service.”

Pay for service

A recent report by Skyscanner Ltd surveying 1,000 Chinese passengers showed that 83 per cent of the respondents would be willing to pay for an in-flight Wi-Fi service.

This percentage went up to 90 per cent among those aged between 25 and 34.

“The rapid growth of the Chinese aviation market, together with a great demand for in-flight connectivity is making these very exciting times for MCN,” said Mr Yin Lin.