MANAMA, Bahrain – Gulf Air, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain, today took delivery of its first A330-200 aircraft retrofitted with Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s (Panasonic) Global Communications Suite. The comprehensive communications and entertainment solution, ‘Sky Hub,’ offers passengers onboard full broadband connectivity to access internet, mobile phone services and, for the first time in the world, a global, live television service onboard. The Panasonic’s Global Communications Suite is being installed across Gulf Air’s entire fleet of aircraft progressively.
Unveiling the ‘Sky Hub’ onboard the aircraft today to the media and senior Bahrain civil aviation officials, Gulf Air Chief Executive Officer Mr. Samer Majali said, “It is another important milestone in our customer service journey as we unveil our latest in-flight entertainment system, ‘Sky Hub’ on our fleet.”
“We are bringing to you, for the first time in the world, a fully integrated broadband connectivity offering high speed internet, very fast mobile data speeds, voice over the internet (VOIP), streaming videos and the world’s first in-flight live TV satellite stream across continents.”
He added, “In tune with the fast-paced economy, Gulf Air is providing the fastest, affordable and unlimited internet and mobile access onboard for our customers to stay fully connected in the air and, we are pleased to be the first in the industry to offer our customers a connected airline.”
“I am sure this avant-garde, cutting-edge technology will fundamentally change our passengers’ communications and entertainment experience onboard setting a new standard for in-flight entertainment,” Mr. Majali concluded.
Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer for Panasonic Avionics Corporation said, “We are very excited and honored to have helped Gulf Air become the first carrier in the world to offer a truly amazing passenger entertainment experience with broadband connectivity for high speed internet access, mobile voice and data services, and a live television service that includes some of the world’s most popular news programming and live sporting events.”
Using Panasonic’s Global Communications Suite, Gulf Air will offer two-way broadband connectivity at speeds of up to 50 Mbps to the aircraft, enabling faster browsing, chatting and other internet based services. Gulf Air will offer deeply immersive, content-rich entertainment in addition to live, uninterrupted television services on routes across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Travelers can now watch their favorite football teams on IMG Media’s Barclays Premier League channel or keep up with world events on favorite news channels such as BBC World News, BBC Arabic and Euronews.
Passengers also will be able to browse the web at broadband speeds, and access social media services such as Facebook and Twitter. In addition, business travelers can access their virtual private network (VPN) to send and receive emails while watching live-news and stock market updates at 35,000 feet. They simply need to turn on their personal device, connect to the in-flight Wi-Fi network, and log into the service through Deutsche Telekom, the wireless internet service provider onboard.
Panasonic’s mobile voice and data service, offered in collaboration with AeroMobile’s award winning in-flight mobile phone technology, will enable passengers to use their mobile phone, Smartphone or BlackBerry device to call, text, email, browse the internet and use other applications throughout the flight. They will also be able to use GSM-enabled tablets and laptops to go online in flight.
Pal Bjordal, CEO of AeroMobile, says: “AeroMobile is delighted to be supporting this world first from Gulf Air – our 10th customer. With many roaming partners throughout the Middle East, we’re perfectly positioned to help their passengers stay in touch whilst in the air.”