Etihad flies first aircraft with Panasonic connectivity system

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Etihad Airways launched its new Panasonic Avionics inflight mobile and wi-fi service today on an Airbus A330-200 flight to Brussels.

The aircraft, equipped with Ku-band broadband Internet as well as mobile voice and data services, will fly to long-haul destinations such as Brussels, Dublin, Manchester, Munich, Frankfurt and Milan from Etihad's hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport. The airline is marketing the offering as "Etihad Wi-Fly."

The airline will equip 10 aircraft with the inflight entertainment platform by early 2013 and plans to outfit its entire fleet by the end of 2014, said Etihad chief James Hogan in a statement. The narrowbody aircraft will have Aeromobile's data and mobile phone services only, while the widebody fleet will offer the added option of broadband wi-fi.

Etihad has been flying three Airbus A320s and three Airbus A330-300s with OnAir's connectivity platform, which uses Inmarsat SwiftBroadband. The new installations part of an exclusive $1 billion deal the airline signed with Panasonic Avionics in 2011 for connectivity, inflight entertainment systems and maintenance.