TAMPA, Fla. — Jet service provider JSX announced April 21 that it is set to become the first airline to provide Starlink satellite broadband services later this year.
The semi-private charter company said it has signed an agreement to provide Starlink in-flight Wi-Fi on up to 100 aircraft, covering the 77 30-seat Embraer jets currently in its fleet.
Financial details were not disclosed, but JSX said it intended to provide the services to passengers free of charge.
JSX is proud to be the first airline to adopt @SpaceX Starlink internet in flight, free for every customer on board. We’d call it the best Wi-Fi in the sky, but it’s actually the best Wi-Fi in the galaxy – coming later this year. #Starlink #SpaceX #FlyJSX @Elon Musk pic.twitter.com/u3ZrkF3Xs7
—JSX (@flyjsx) April 21, 2022
The companies are testing a terminal that was developed specifically for the aviation market, which Starlink vice president of commercial sales, Jonathan Hofeller, said on March 22 that he was working toward certification on “various planes.”
JSX announcement comes days after Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian told the Wall Street Journal on April 18 that he performed Starlink exploratory tests on his planes.
More than 300 Delta aircraft are currently equipped with Wi-Fi using Viasat’s satellite network, and the airline plans to connect at least 200 more aircraft to this network by the end of 2022.
Delta said on March 14 more than 50% domestic boardings are served by Viasat connectivity.
Shares of Viasat fell 1.4% to close at $45.54 on April 18 after starting the day at $46.17.
Shares of inflight connectivity provider Gogo also took a hit after the Wall Street Journal report, even though it sold the commercial part of its business that serves Delta aircraft to satellite operator Intelsat. two years ago.
Both companies’ share prices suffered deeper declines after news of Starlink’s first airline deal emerged amid investor concerns over future competition for in-flight connectivity.
Shares of Viasat began April 22 at $42.31, down 7.1% from their April 18 opening price.
Inmarsat, SES and many other established satellite broadband operators are also looking for an inflight connectivity market which, despite recent pandemic-related travel restrictions, promises significant growth as passengers demand more and more better connectivity services.
Hofeller said on March 22 that SpaceX sees connectivity on planes as ripe for an overhaul and that its services will be indistinguishable from conventional internet access.
The company began seeking regulatory approval in 2020 to test Starlink services on private jets and ships that Falcon 9 rockets land on for reuse. SpaceX is also plans to connect vehicles and other types of boats to Starlink to extend the broadband network beyond fixed homes and offices.
Starlink has a quarter of a million subscribers who, after a recent price hikeare charged $110 per month for its standard service or $500 per month for a premium tier that uses an upgraded antenna with a wider scan angle.
To date, SpaceX has launched 2,388 satellites to expand its Starlink network, according to the statistics maintained by spaceflight analyst and astronomer Jonathan McDowell.
Of these, McDowell’s data shows that 2,150 satellites remain in orbit and 2,121 are operational.
SpaceX’s latest Starlink mission launched April 21 from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Space Force Station Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The repurposed Falcon 9 first stage that helped the company deploy 53 Starlink satellites had already flown eight Starlink missions.