Abu Dhabi flag-carrier Etihad has announced plans to roll out onboard wireless connectivity for its long-haul routes.
The carrier confirmed September 28 that two aircraft flying between Abu Dhabi and Europe would be kitted out by the end of the year.
Further aircraft will be added by March 2012, the airline said, and it is preparing to decide on a ‘fleet-wide’ system which will allow customers to surf the internet while flying on all its planes.
Etihad faces considerable competitive pressure from neighboring Emirates on many of its routes, making the current technological lag undesirable.
Emirates announced a fleet-wide roll-out of wifi last year, beginning with its enormous A380 ‘superjumbo’ jets.
Three of Etihad’s first wifi-equipped aircraft will be Airbus A330-300s, which will operate between Abu Dhabi and cities like Frankfurt, Geneva, London and Paris.
Like Emirates‘ service, it is expected to be satellite-based, allowing passengers connectivity over large bodies of water.
Neighboring gulf carrier Oman Air became the first airline in the world to offer in-flight broadband on an intercontinental long-haul flight in 2010.