Virgin is about to win the battle to be the first Australian airline with international inflight wi-fi

Virgin CEO John Borghetti. Photo: Getty/ Paul Kane

Virgin Australia plans to offer inflight wi-fi on a range of domestic flights from October and claims it will be the first Australian airline to offer wi-fi internationally.

The airline, which today announced another financial loss for the year, albeit the $220.3 million statutory loss is around 15% less than the 2016 figure, has been trialing wi-fi on a single Boeing 737 since April and now has two domestic planes with it.

A number of international airlines flying to and from Australia already offer wi-fi on their flights, including Etihad, costing a little over $25 Australian for four hours. Virgin Australia plans to offer a basic free wi-fi service on domestic flights but has yet to announce how much it will charge for faster speeds and how much the international service will cost.

Earlier this year, the airline surveyed customers on a range of options and price points in a bid to scope how much they would pay.

Qantas says it’s still in discussions with providers for its international fleet. The airline has also been running domestic wi-fi trials and plans to offer the service for free.

Virgin has around 75 Boeing 737s on its domestic routes and says it hopes to have wi-fi on a majority of them by the end of 2018, with its five international Boeing 777 also fitted out by the same deadline, but its Airbus A330 aircraft won’t be finished second half of 2019.

The airline says its three month wi-fi trial delivered high satisfaction levels for 77% of passengers. Just under half used it to check email (49%) with social media (43%) the second most popular action, followed by news (31%) and sending text messages (27%). Only one in five used it to watch Netflix (19%), which is being offered for free under a three month trial.

Virgin Australia Group CEO John Borghetti said more than 90% of the fleet will be fitted with wi-fi once the roll out is complete.