Qantas is accelerating its wi-fi roll-out on its domestic network, starting next month as the airline attempts to get the jump on rival Virgin Australia.
Qantas beat Virgin into the air with trials on a Boeing 737-800 that began at the start of the year, and with that testing winding up CEO Alan Joyce said wi-fi will start going into its A330 and 737 aircraft from late September 2017, once the airline has full regulatory approval.
“Our investment in free inflight Wi-Fi will ramp up from September,” he said.
Virgin Australia plans to begin offering inflight wi-fi on domestic flights from October and claims it will be the first Australian airline to offer wi-fi internationally.
Qantas claims its domestic system is “up to 10 times faster than conventional on-board wi-fi”, but the company will ban voice calls on flights.
It’s still in discussions with suppliers for an international service having originally trialed in in 2012, but a spokesperson told Business Insider the airline has “been waiting for a significant improvement in technology before offering it again”.
Qantas expects around 15 million passengers annually will use the free domestic service once the roll-out is complete. It aims to have 80 planes switched on in the Airbus 330 and Boeing 737 fleet by the end of 2018.
Passengers will be able to watch Foxtel, Stan, and Netflix or browse YouTube and Facebook during the flight, as well as using email and social media.
Virgin Australia says it will have wi-fi on a “majority” of the 75 Boeing 737s on domestic routes by the end of 2018.
Last week Qantas announced underlying profit before tax of $1.4 billion, the second-highest result in its 97 year history. Statutory profit after tax of $852 million.