Virgin Australia is kicking off inflight wi-fi trials in April

Photo: Bob Riha/WireImage

Virgin Australia is trying to get the jump on Qantas in the race to bring wi-fi to the skies, announcing a partnership with Gogo and Optus for a three-month inflight trial starting next month.

While Virgin has been surveying customers trying to gauge whether they’re willing to pay for in-flight internet access, Qantas delayed showcasing its own system after months of development due to “stability issues”, but says it remains “on-track” for a broader roll out to the domestic fleet from mid-2017.

From next month, Virgin Australia will begin a three-month testing period on a single Boeing 737-800. The airline says it wants to “gather feedback from customers” before it rolls out satellite coverage on both its domestic and international fleet.

The service will be free during the trial and offer complimentary access to streaming services such as Netflix, Stan and Pandora.

Virgin Australia group executive John Thomas said the airline will finalise the business model after customer feedback and the testing period. The airline also has to get regulatory approval.

“The new connectivity solution will complement Virgin Australia’s popular onboard wireless inflight entertainment system, which revolutionised domestic and Trans-Tasman inflight entertainment when it was introduced in 2013,” he said.

Gogo already supplies a number of international airlines, including Air Canada, Air France KLM, American, British Airways, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic with internet services.

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