Ethiopian Airlines will soon offer high-speed inflight broadband via a partnership with Inmarsat and Airbus

The GX Aviation connectivity, selected through Airbus’ integrated satellite connectivity technology the Airspace Link HBCplus, will help the airline to meet a growing demand amongst airline passengers to have access to the internet whilst flying. 

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Mesfin Tasew said: “Connectivity is a crucial part of our services and products and bringing Inmarsat’s best-in-class GX Aviation service to our passengers, as part of Airbus’ HBCplus programme, is a major step forward. 

“We want to give our passengers the possibility to stream, surf and chat from thousands of feet in the air, no matter where their route or destination is.” 

The airline’s first broadband offering will come with the arrival of the Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, due to be delivered in the third quarter of 2024, as part of its Vision 2035 strategy to double its fleet. 

Airbus’ vice-president of its cabin and cargo programme Andre Schneider said that Ethiopian Airline’s choice to use the HBCplus tech, which sees a new terminal and antenna built as part of the aircraft, was a “further endorsement” of the Airbus brand: “We are delighted that Ethiopian Airlines has selected our agnostic and flexible high-bandwidth connectivity solution – HBCplus.” 

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Take up of inflight broadband by Ethiopian is no surprise as it looks to solidify its place as Africa’s largest airline brand, coming after it bought a 49% stake in Nigeria Air

Additionally, Inmarsat, which was recently bought by ViaSat, has been firming its presence in the inflight broadband space in recent months, including a recent announcement about its newest solution for business jets

Inmarsat Aviation president Niels Steenstrup said: “We were selected as the first managed services provider for the Airbus HBCplus programme last year, with a scope that includes connectivity, digital portal services and ISP capability.”