Inmarsat Aviation appointed chief strategy officer Philip Balaam to lead the Aviation Business Unit, succeeding Leo Mondale, who plans to retire in early 2018 after 13 years at the satellite communications specialist.

Inmarsat CEO Rupert Pearce said Mondale had “led our global business development activities and was responsible for conceiving and implementing many of our most formative growth transactions. He added, “Philip Balaam is a highly experienced and valued member of our executive management team and will play a key role as our aviation business enters its next stage of growth.”

The change in leadership comes as Inmarsat confirmed its European Aviation satellite has completed its in-orbit tests and “stands ready to support inflight internet services when the European Aviation Network (EAN) goes ‘live’ later this year.”

The satellite, built by France’s Thales Alenia Space, was launched by Arianespace in June this year.

According to Inmarsat, EAN is the world’s first dedicated aviation connectivity solution to integrate space-based and ground-based networks to deliver a seamless Wi-Fi experience for airline passengers throughout Europe. 

International Airlines Group (IAG), which includes British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling, is the launch customer for the new service.   

In May, Inmarsat launched the fourth high-speed broadband communications satellite in its Global Xpress program GX Aviation, a worldwide service powered by its Ka-band, Global Xpress (Ka-band) satellite constellation.

Inmarsat has over 1,200 aircraft installations expected under signed contracts for its inflight connectivity services. Mandates have been won from airlines including Avianca, Qatar Airways, Lufthansa Group, International Airlines Group, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Norwegian Air Shuttle.

Linda Blachly linda.blachly@penton.com