• Milestone reached for otherwise noticeably quiet partnership between Deutsche Telekom and Inmarsat.

BA-flight

British Airways completes on-boarding of DT’s EAN

Source: Daniel Klein / Unsplash

British Airways (BA) flagged that the European Aviation Network (EAN) in-flight broadband service — enabled by satellite operator Inmarsat in partnership with Deutsche Telekom (DT) — was now fully operational across its Airbus short-haul fleet.

The UK airline, which sits within the International Airlines Group (IAG), disclosed the milestone during a briefing to journalists on the launch of a new onboard menu. Completion of the EAN rollout follows BA’s prolonged “soft launch” trial of the technology, ongoing since March 2019.

IAG become the EAN’s first customer signup in late‑2016 (Deutsche Telekomwatch, #58, #79 and passim). Its agreement to use the service extends to other IAG airline brands such as Aer Lingus, Iberia, and Vueling (Deutsche Telekomwatch, #58).

Neither DT nor Inmarsat have given a recent update on how the EAN partnership — struck back in 2015 — is performing, and how drastically its commercial progress has been impacted by travel restrictions during the pandemic. IAG remains the tie‑up’s only announced client.

Update: DT and Inmarsat have since disclosed that the EAN has now been installed on “more than 250” BA, Iberia, and Vueling aircraft. It appears likely that the majority of these EAN-enabled aircraft are BA planes. 

DT and Inmarsat’s technology partners on the EAN project include Cobham, Eclipse Global Connectivity (formerly EAD Aerospace), SkyFive (previously part of Nokia, but now independent), and Thales.

SkyFive, which supplies the specialist LTE network solution that supports the EAN, recently flagged that it was planning a trial of the system in New Zealand — potentially expanding its use beyond Europe for the first time. The vendor has previously mooted plans for expansion into the Middle East, India, and China, among other markets (Deutsche Telekomwatch, passim).