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Air New Zealand starts Wi-Fi trial on some international flights

Air New Zealand has started trialling its new inflight Wi-Fi service on a long-haul Boeing 777-300 aircraft.

The airline is joining a growing list of carriers offering connectivity in the air and those on board will be able to access email, social media channels, websites and go shopping. It is still working out what it will charge for the service once it is rolled across the fleet.

The 777-300 aircraft mainly fly transtasman, US, London and some Pacific Island routes. Following the trial Air New Zealand will begin installing equipment in all of its seven Boeing777-300s.

Air New Zealand will use Inmarsat's global GX satellite constellation and has partnered with Panasonic Avionics as the onboard technology supplier.

Air New Zealand chief digital officer Avi Golan said it was trialling Wi-Fi initially in order to gather customer feedback and ensure it met their needs before it was rolled out across the international jet fleet. 

"The trial will not only test the technical aspects of the service, it will also gather feedback on pricing options. Going forward, customers will be able to choose to sign up for different timeframes and have the ability to pay in a variety of ways," he said.

This would include spending airpoints earnings.

Golan said new content could include links to Air New Zealand's chatbot, Oscar, to help passengers resolve any travel-related questions during their journey.

Last year the airline's chief executive Christopher Luxon said the airline had been patient over Wi-Fi.

"Given Air New Zealand operates some of the longest flights in the world, and in oceanic areas where there has historically been poor quality satellite service, we have patiently worked with partners until comfortable that a service which meets the high expectations of our customers is available," he said.

Airlines with Wi-Fi now serving New Zealand include Emirates and Cathay Pacific.

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