By Andy Sambidge
Abu Dhabi carrier signs 10-year deal for in-flight services including broadband, live TV
Etihad Airways has signed a new 10-year deal for the provision of in-flight entertainment including broadband internet and live TV.
The agreement with Panasonic Avionics Corporation applies to all the airline's long-haul fleet of wide body aircraft.
The deal currently being finalised, which is valued at more than $1bn at list prices, will include a full service maintenance contract, Etihad said in a statement.
Last month Gulf Air, Bahrain’s state-owned carrier, took delivery of the world’s first aircraft to be fitted with communications and entertainment technology that allow passengers to watch live TV, receive text messages and access social-media networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
The airline’s 'Sky Hub' system cost millions of dinars, said Samer Majali, Gulf Air’s chief executive officer.
Etihad Airways and Panasonic are developing a plan to deploy Panasonic's eX2 and eX3 IFEC systems on 100 new aircraft, in addition to the 16 aircraft already equipped with the eX2 system.
Under the agreement, Etihad Airways will install Panasonic's eX2 system on its new Airbus A380s, Boeing 787s, and Boeing 777-300Ers, and will use Panasonic's eX3 solution for its new Airbus A350 aircraft.
The deal also includes the installation of Panasonic's Global Communications Suite, which provides in-flight broadband connectivity, mobile phone service and live television content.
James Hogan, Etihad's CEO, said: "It is essential that we offer the most engaging and dynamic in-flight entertainment for our guests - especially on longhaul flights.
"We went through a comprehensive technical and commercial evaluation of what was out there in the market. Panasonic will support Etihad Airways' commitment to delivering a system that will enable us to stay at the leading edge in this all-important area."
Paul Margis, Panasonic Avionics CEO, added: "Etihad Airways is a very important and valued customer for Panasonic, and we look forward to delivering an uncompromising IFEC solution and in-flight connectivity service that offers passengers an unparalleled entertainment experience."