Lufthansa is aiming to become the first network airline in Europe to offer broadband on board short and medium-haul flights from next year.
The first aircraft is due to be fitted with the new technology in early summer 2016.
This will enable passengers to communicate and to use the internet with a wide bandwidth but mobile telephone calls on board will still not be allowed “due to customer preference,” according to the carrier.
The new service involving technology partner Inmarsat is based on modern broadband satellite technology aimed at delivering seamless, reliable coverage on short and medium-haul flights.
Inmarsat recently launched the third satellite in a ‘global constellation’ and Lufthansa will be its first aviation customer.
The service will enable passengers to make the most of broadband Internet access on their own mobile devices via a wireless network. They will be able to use email services as well as superior applications and even streaming.
Travellers will also be able to use their mobile phones to send and receive text messages and for the transfer of data based on their own mobile phone contract.
The German airline group plans a long-term global partnership to offer other airlines a modern onboard IT platform with broadband Internet access.
Lufthansa is also committing to a flight trial for a new hybrid network being developed for Europe.
The European Aviation Network combines a satellite from Inmarsat with a complementary ground network being provided by Deutsche Telekom.
“This promising and innovative technology offers potential in terms of costs and can be flexibly adapted to suit the broadband transmission demands of the future,” Lufthansa said.
“From 2017 onwards, Lufthansa will commence a flight trial program of the new technology.”
The airline operated the world’s first scheduled flight with broadband internet access in January 2003 but it had to be suspended after three years because the necessary satellites were no longer in operation.
Lufthansa then introduced broadband internet access on long-haul flights in December 2010. FlyNet has been available on all 106 long-haul aircraft in the fleet since the start of this year.
Lufthansa chairman, Carsten Spohr, said: “Lufthansa has always been a pioneer of Internet services on board its aircraft.
“Having equipped all planes in the Lufthansa intercontinental fleet with our successful FlyNet system, we are now continuing our success story by providing internet on board our short and medium-haul flights.
“We are therefore the first airline in Europe able to offer its guests an Internet surfing experience boasting the same quality and speed as they are used to at home.”