Air China, the leading international air carrier in the People's Republic of China (PRC), and Connexion by Boeing, a business unit of The Boeing Company, (NYSE: BA), today announced they have reached a preliminary agreement to provide real-time, high-speed connectivity to air travelers traveling to and from China. The announcement today in Beijing includes as many as 15 firm and optional retrofit installations on Air China's Boeing 747-400 aircraft, and other long-haul aircraft models to be determined at a later date. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Aircraft installations are expected to begin in October 2006 and once completed, the Connexion by Boeing service will provide Air China passengers with in-flight access to the Internet, real-time email, instant messaging (IM), corporate intranet access, including virtual private network capability, and the ability to stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues while enroute to their destination. Additionally, the initial aircraft installations will be completed in time for passengers to use the service in advance of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Service availability is expected on key routes between China and North America, Europe, the Middle East and throughout the Asia Pacific region.
"This is a tremendous way for Connexion by Boeing to begin the new year and we are proud to have Air China become our launch customer in mainland China and to be a part of the airline's vision for in-cabin service excellence," said Vice President of Commercial Airline Business Lianne Stein. "In addition to showcasing how Air China aircraft are equipped with the latest in communication technology, our agreement also will help to ensure that visitors to the 2008 Olympics have the ability to truly share their personal travel experience while enroute to and from the region."
In recent months, China has demonstrated significant momentum in its aviation market as airlines in the China market continue to update their fleet of aircraft to support travel on key international routes. Strong growth in the commercial airline sector is anticipated over the next several decades with new airliners needed to meet the anticipated boon in air travel.
"Air China is pleased to work with Connexion by Boeing to bring this leading service to its passengers," said Air China Vice President Ma Kui-liang. "China will be prominently featured on the stage to the world during the upcoming 2008 Olympic Games and this technology will help to enhance Air China’s service quality and make the wonders of our country accessible to the world through the provision of airborne Internet service. In addition, Air China will be able to use the bandwidth capabilities to enhance communication between its flight crews and its service and maintenance organizations beginning in the very near future."