Saudia to Enhance Passenger Experience With High-speed Inflight Broadband Provided by Inmarsat and GDC Technics
SAUDIA, the national flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, today announced that its upcoming fleet of 35 Airbus A321neo and Airbus A321XLR aircraft will offer the award-winning GX Aviation high-speed inflight broadband solution by Inmarsat, the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications. The aircraft will connect to the advanced connectivity service using an ultra-high performance terminal by GDC Technics, an industry leader in engineering and technical services, modifications and electronic systems.
As the first major inflight connectivity agreement in the Middle East since the Covid-19 pandemic, SAUDIA will be GX Aviation’s launch customer in Saudi Arabia. In addition, the airline has become the first in the world to select both Inmarsat’s revolutionary new OneFi customer experience platform (CXP) and the next-generation terminal for GX Aviation, developed with GDC Technics. The terminal is the industry’s only in service multi-network solution and has been designed to provide enhanced customer flexibility and future proofed to meet the demands of planned and new constellations.
The selection enables SAUDIA to provide a world-class digital experience for passengers onboard 20 Airbus A321neo and 15 Airbus A321XLR. The airline’s first installation of GX Aviation is expected in late 2022 and once the service is live, passengers will be able to seamlessly browse the internet, stream videos, check social media, shop online and more during flights using their own personal devices.
Inmarsat’s OneFi platform will serve as a catalyst for SAUDIA to monetise its inflight connectivity by bringing a host of onboard services together within a single portal interface. The solution, which launched in September 2021, allows passengers to order food, beverages and duty free purchases, enjoy e-books, newspapers and magazines, receive the latest information for their flight and destination, and sign into SAUDIA’s AlFursan frequent flyer programme, all in real-time from the comfort of their seat.
SAUDIA’s selection of GX Aviation and OneFi comes at a critical time for the aviation industry, with the global pandemic having accelerated passenger demand for digital inflight experiences. Inmarsat’s 2021 Passenger Confidence Tracker, the largest and most comprehensive global survey of its kind since the pandemic began, found that digital solutions that keep passengers connected and minimise their contact with cabin crew and fellow passengers can go a long way in boosting confidence. In addition, out of the 10,000 respondents, 41% believed inflight Wi-Fi had further increased in importance after the pandemic.
Captain Ibrahim S. Koshy, CEO of SAUDIA, said: “As the national flag carrier, SAUDIA is constantly innovating to support the fleet’s growth plans and was recently named the World’s Most Improved Airline of 2021 by Skytrax, the second time we have been awarded this honour in recent years.
“We understand the growing importance of high-speed inflight broadband for guests, providing a seamless experience to keep connected and entertained while flying with us. The combination of Inmarsat’s GX Aviation and OneFi solutions, together with the next-generation GDC terminal, will ensure our passengers have access to world-class connectivity on all flights operated by our Airbus A321neo and A321XLR aircraft.”
Rajeev Suri, CEO of Inmarsat, said: “GX Aviation has established itself as the gold standard for inflight connectivity and we are delighted to welcome SAUDIA as our latest customer. This agreement truly reinforces the airline as a global aviation pioneer and innovator, not only because it’s the first airline in Saudi Arabia to offer advanced next-generation inflight broadband, but also the first carrier in the world to select both Inmarsat’s OneFi platform and new GDC Technics aircraft terminal. We look forward to rolling out the service with SAUDIA, initially on its Airbus A321neo and A321XLR aircraft, so that its passengers can benefit from uninterrupted high-speed Wi-Fi on flights.”
GX Aviation’s next-generation terminal will be produced and installed by GDC Technics, with a robust flat panel antenna developed by Thinkom. Following a range of technology assessments and test flights, the powerful new terminal has demonstrated its ability to consistently deliver the highest levels of inflight connectivity, even over the world’s busiest airspaces.
Mustapha Al Gadoum, Vice President of Sales for GDC Technics, said: “More than being just an enabler for the digital transformation of the airline experience, providing a touchless onboard experience will be the key to increasing passenger confidence as regional and global air travel recovers from the global Covid-19 pandemic. GX Aviation is well positioned to exploit our new lightweight, low drag, ultra-high performance terminal, and will optimise its capabilities even further, providing SAUDIA with the perfect blueprint for world-class inflight broadband that meets passenger expectations for generations to come.”
The GDC terminal’s performance will be further boosted by continued enhancements to Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) satellite network. GX5, Inmarsat’s most advanced satellite to date, is the latest in the network to enter commercial service and will provide SAUDIA with significant layered capacity and network redundancy over the Middle East and Europe, which forms one of the world’s busiest travel corridors. Inmarsat’s technology roadmap will see seven further satellite launches by 2024, starting with first satellite in the Inmarsat-6 fleet (I-6 F1), the largest, most sophisticated commercial communications satellite ever built, which is scheduled to launch on 21 December 2021. This builds on the launch of new possibilities through ELERA in L-band that, together with Global Xpress and forthcoming low earth orbit and terrestrial networks, will deliver Inmarsat ORCHESTRA.
Saudi Arabian Airlines
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