Southwest Airlines: Fleetwide Wi-Fi won’t come until 2013
Getting various certifications to install Wi-Fi on Southwest Airlines‘ aircraft is taking longer than expected and the service isn’t expected to be installed fleetwide until 2013.
Southwest chairman and CEO Gary Kelly laid out this timetable during the company’s second quarter earnings call today after the company announced it recorded net income of $112 million, a 23.1% increase compared with the second quarter of 2009.
Kelly said he feels “very comfortable” with the “2013 timeframe” for fleetwide Wi-Fi installation even as the company works on several initiatives to increase its hold on business travelers.
Southwest, the largest domestic carrier in the U.S., began testing Wi-Fi service from vendor Row 44 in late January 2010, and at the time the airline indicated that all its aircraft would have Wi-Fi capabilities by “early 2012.”
In the airline’s most recent edition of Spirit Magazine, Kelly wrote that the airline began the two-year installation process in April 2010 — which would have made full implementation scheduled for around April 2012.
But, today Kelly said the certification process has been taking longer than expected and the airline is looking at the “2013 timeframe” to complete the process.
Meanwhile, Kelly said the airline has a “very significant” opportunity to win more business customers and it plans to implement significant changes to its Rapid Rewards program, including the Rapid Rewards Visa credit card component, in 2011.
Dennis Schaal was North American editor for Tnooz.