Air Canada to extend Wi-Fi to international flights

Air Canada says it will offer customers the ability to connect to the internet while travelling internationally, a feature it already provides on domestic and North American flights.
Air Canada currently offers internet connectivity on all of its domestic and North American flights, and plans to expand the service to international destinations. (Mark Lennihan/Associated Press)

Air Canada says it will offer customers the ability to connect to the internet while travelling internationally, a feature it already provides on domestic and North American flights.

The airline said in a release Monday it will partner with Illinois-based GoGo Inc., a company that provides wireless connections for many other airlines, to install the service on the carrier's fleet of wide-body planes, which it uses for long-haul flights to Europe, Asia and elsewhere.

"Air Canada is pleased to announce it will offer customers the ability to stay connected whenever and wherever they fly by extending in-flight, North American connectivity to its wide-body aircraft flying overseas using satellite technology," said Ben Smith, the company's president of passenger airlines.

"While business travellers will welcome satellite Wi-Fi service as a productivity tool, it will have widespread appeal for all travellers by allowing them to stay in touch, access the internet and enjoy additional entertainment options throughout their entire journey."

Air Canada's fleet of Boeing 777 jets will be the first to be outfitted with the technology.

The airline is keeping mum on costs, but a spokesman told CBC News in an email Monday there will be a "modest cost" for the service "but pricing is not yet firmly determined."

The FAA lifted restrictions on wireless communications devices while on commercial flights in 2013, but the industry has been slow to roll out the service unilaterally. Transport Canada said the same in 2014.

Air Canada's rival WestJet offers satellite connectivity on a good proportion of its flights, and is working toward having internet access for a fee on all of its flights.

GoGo already has its technology installed on roughly 2,500 commercial jets on 14 airlines worldwide. Pricing varies depending on airline, but starts at $5 for basic access for a short time, all the way to more than $50 for a monthly pass and more than $500 for an annual pass that would provide internet service on numerous airlines.

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