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Condor spreads wings with Intelsat in-flight connectivity

Germany’s leading leisure airline inks deal with integrated satellite and terrestrial network operator to extend Wi-Fi product to short- and medium-haul routes using Airbus A32xneo aircraft

Integrated satellite and terrestrial network operator Intelsat has announced it will provide communications options on the first of more than 40 new Condor Airlines Airbus narrowbody aircraft.

Claimed to be Germany’s most popular leisure airline, Condor has been operating since 1956, taking passengers from the eight biggest airports in Germany, as well as Basel and Zurich in Switzerland, to around 90 holiday destinations in Europe, Africa, the Indian Ocean, North America and the Caribbean.

Condor operates a fleet of over 50 aircraft, which are maintained by the company’s own maintenance operation and now boast stripes in five colours to illustrate its development from a leisure airline to what it calls “a unique and unmistakable” vacation brand.

The design was unveiled with the first A330neo, operated by Condor since December 2022. As the aircraft’s German launch customer, Condor will be flying 21 A330neo long-haul aircraft and receive 43 brand-new short- and medium-haul aircraft of the A32Xneo family from 2024. The in-flight connectivity agreement with Intelsat, which also includes factory installation by Airbus, will see Condor have 2Ku connectivity on 43 Airbus A320neo and A321neo aircraft immediately upon delivery from the manufacturer.

2Ku connectivity works on the principle of two beam-forming antennas, one designed for data transmission and another for receiving signals from a global fleet of more than 180 compatible satellites using Ku-band frequency. Its core business benefit is said to be to provide “exceptional” service to all passengers simultaneously, and, compared with traditional gimbaled antennas, 2Ku offers three times the surface area and two times the throughput to the plane with the same amount of spectrum. 2Ku also boasts superior on-wing performance with reduced drag and long service intervals.

The installations will be completed under Airbus’s High-Bandwidth Connectivity Service programme, a satellite connectivity service that will be offered as a Supplier Furnished Equipment (SFE) line-fit catalogue option, and also for retrofit on all Airbus product lines. This is designed to enable airlines to connect to a choice of managed service providers via a new certified terminal and radome built as part of the aircraft.

It supports the exchange of data as one seamlessly integrated aircraft system, and is positioned to unlock future digital services capacity and demand growth, allowing airlines to deliver the now-expected high levels of passenger connectivity experiences, in an exponentially growing market.

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Earlier in May 2024, Condor started revenue service with the first A320neo, with the remaining 42 aircraft planned for delivery through the end of 2028. 2Ku is designed to operate not just on today’s high-throughput geostationary satellites, but on Intelsat’s fleet of new software-defined satellites that will enter service in 2026.

“Condor is pleased to offer connectivity in cooperation with Intelsat onboard our brand-new A32xneo aircraft,” said Stanislaw Conradi, Condor product manager of IFEC and aircraft cabin systems. “We are looking forward to extending our Wi-Fi product FlyConnect to our short- and medium-haul routes, thus making sure our passengers can also stay connected above the clouds.”

Intelsat’s 2Ku service will deliver streaming-quality connectivity for passengers even in busy European airspace,” added Dave Bijur, senior vice-president of commercial aviation at Intelsat. “The factory installation means that Condor will be able to get the new Airbus planes in service faster and passengers will enjoy the reliable and proven Intelsat inflight connectivity.”

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