Viasat Scores Virgin Atlantic IFC Deal, Delivers ViaSat-3 Payload to Boeing
Viasat will supply in-flight connectivity (IFC) satellite capacity and equipment to commercial airline Virgin Atlantic under the terms of a new contract announced Wednesday.
Viasat said its IFC hardware will be factory-installed on 16 of Virgin’s new Airbus A330-900 jets at the Airbus Center of Excellence production site in Toulouse, France. Virgin will put the equipped jets into service covering intercontinental flights between the Americas and the United Kingdom in the second half of this year.
Once in service, the A330-900 jets will be able to receive connectivity service from Viasat’s network of owned and partner Ka-band satellites. The operator added that the onboard equipment on Virgin Atlantic’s new aircraft is designed to be forward-compatible with its upcoming satellite constellation, ViaSat-3.
Financial details of the contract were not disclosed.
This is the latest in a string of IFC wins for Viasat after the company signed Southwest Airlines in May, new low-cost airline Breeze Airways in March, and Delta Air Lines and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines last year.
In addition to the IFC contract announcement, Viasat also provided an update on the status of its second ViaSat-3 payload module, confirming Wednesday that it has been delivered to Boeing’s El Segundo, California facility. There, it will be integrated with Boeing’s 702 spacecraft bus platform and undergo spacecraft environmental testing in preparation for launch. The second ViaSat-3 class satellite is expected to provide broadband service over Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) some time in 2023.
During its latest quarterly financial report, Viasat said that the first ViaSat-3 satellite, which will cover the Americas, will enter service around January of 2023. The company originally hoped to have it enter service by the end of 2022. The third ViaSat-3 satellite is undergoing final integration and testing and will provide service to the Asia Pacific region, completing the operator’s global coverage network. Viasat has not set a launch date for the third constellation satellite.
The operator also recently announced that company co-founder Mark Dankberg returned to his long-held roles of chairman and CEO, with President and CEO Rick Baldridge transitioning to a newly created vice chairman position to focus on the company’s acquisition of Inmarsat.