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Delta Air Lines will allow its customers to text for free while on board most of its aircraft as part of its multi-billion dollar investment in customer experience.
Passengers will be able to use iMessage, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger to communicate with people on the ground.
“Starting this weekend we’re going to be introducing free text messaging on all Delta planes that have Wi-Fi, anywhere in the world,” Chief Executive Ed Bastian, said at the Skift Global Forum in New York.
The service will be available on all aircraft enabled with Gogo inflight Internet, which excludes some of the smaller regional jets.
While Bastian joked that he had previously referred to Michael Small as the Chief Executive of “No-go,” he lauded the improvements made in connectivity, especially because it would mean less restrictions on the number of people who can be online at any one time.
“They are making a lot of progress. The new 2Ku bandwidth that’s being installed and will be on the majority of our mainline planes by early part of next year has the capability to have full bandwidth capacity on it so that we don’t have to police usage by pricing,” Bastian said.
In the future Bastian said he expected Wi-Fi on board aircraft to be free just like it (mostly) is on the ground with commercial partners paying for the ability to have access to a captive market.
Meanwhile, Bastian waded into the disagreement between aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Bombardier. The U.S. Department of Commerce has proposed a 220 percent import tax on Canada’s Bombardier after a complaint by rival Boeing.
“Well we think it’s absurd to start with. It’s a technical ruling. The real question for us will be when Boeing is able to show some harm because this was a Boeing action, that Boeing was instigating,” Bastian said.
In 2016 Delta placed an order for 75 of Bombardier’s new C Series jets and any tax would potentially make the aircraft unaffordable.
“How this is somehow a U.S. trade dispute is to me bizarre but, that said, it’s a technical ruling and I’m confident when the right minds come together a good decision will be taken,” Bastian said.