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Elon Musk’s SpaceX has signed its first ever deal with a major U.S. airline to provide wireless internet to passengers for free using the Starlink satellite network.
The deal with Hawaiian Airlines, which could be implemented as soon as next year, is expected to increase pressure on rival airlines to provide free Wi-Fi for passengers.
“Hawaiian doesn’t currently offer inflight Wi-Fi and has an extensive network of flights over the Pacific Ocean, serving the mainland U.S., Japan, Australia and New Zealand, among other destinations, from Hawaii,” CNBC reported. “It plans to offer Starlink connectivity on its flights out of its home state to cities throughout the mainland U.S. and to its international destinations.”
Avi Mannis, Hawaiian’s chief marketing and communications officer, said that there were “certification issues” that needed to processed before the airline could use Starlink.
“Historically, we’ve looked at our market and not seen great options over the Pacific. We actually don’t have any connectivity on our fleet today,” said Mannis. “The options have been improving over time, but we have waited until there was a product offering … that we thought would live up to the expectations of our guests.”
Jonathan Hofeller, vice president of Starlink commercial sales at SpaceX, said in a statement that Hawaiian Airlines “was ensuring its passengers will experience high-speed internet the way we expect it in the 21st century, making hassles like downloading movies before takeoff a relic of the past.”
Musk has been at the top of the news for most of the month after he made a multi-billion dollar offer to buy Twitter earlier this month.
Twitter’s board of directors initially appeared poised to do everything in its power, including adopting a poison pill, to stop Musk from buying out the company with his unsolicited $43 billion dollar.
However, things appeared to change after Musk disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing last week that he had secured more than $46 billion in financing to take over the company.
“Twitter had been expected to rebuff the offer, which Mr. Musk made earlier this month without saying how he would pay for it,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “But after he disclosed last week that he now has $46.5 billion in financing, Twitter is taking a fresh look at the offer and is more likely than before to seek to negotiate.”
The $46.5 billion comes from three sources, including $13 billion from Morgan Stanley, $12.5 billion from other banks, and $21 billion from himself.
The two sides reportedly could reach a deal as soon as today.
This report has been updated to include additional information.