German airline Lufthansa is trying to revive the in-flight Internet access service run by Boeing but due to be shut down on 31 December.
Lufthansa hopes that a satellite company or consumer electronics company will become an in-flight Internet access service provider, said a spokesman for Lufthansa.
Boeing announced in August that it would shut down its Connexion Internet access service. Lufthansa had equipped the most planes of any customer of the service, and continued to equip planes even after Boeing made its announcement. "It would have resulted in higher costs to stop the process than to continue," he said. Lufthansa has 66 Internet-ready aircraft out of a total of 80 long-haul planes.
At the time of its announcement, Boeing said that it had looked for buyers for Connexion but failed to make a deal. That means that any new provider has to build its own system. "Technically it would not be possible to just switch over to another provider as there is no other such provider," Lufthansa's spokesman said.
Lufthansa and the companies it is talking to are investigating new technologies for delivering the service that could involve replacing some but not all of the existing equipment. For example, the companies could use lighter equipment that would allow airlines to save on fuel costs.
The airline was averaging 30,000 Internet connections per month and 40 users per flight. Since October the service has been free, because Boeing stopped supporting the billing system, but Lufthansa has been unable to collect statistics. Lufthansa is also developing projects that rely on the onboard Internet connections such as a telemedicine application that would let staff better diagnose passenger medical emergencies.
In September, Panasonic Avionics said it was trying to secure commitment from enough airlines to take the place of Connexion. Panasonic offers antennas for planes that weigh less and can deliver higher throughput than the antennas Boeing offered.
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