Spain’s Vueling has become the first LCC to offer European Aviation Network (EAN) inflight Wi-Fi, with an initial “soft launch” on five Airbus A320-family aircraft.

“The rollout will progressively continue over the coming months, with installations expected to be completed on its fleet of more than 110 Airbus A319, A320 and A321 aircraft by early next year,” Vueling said, Oct. 28.

EAN is Europe’s first integrated air-to-ground (A2G) and satellite connectivity network in Europe, and the second in the world after the US.

The A2G component of EAN works from land-based masts, rather than satellites. That means aircraft can be fitted with smaller, lower-drag antennas, making it faster to install and less expensive than satellite-based connectivity. EAN installation takes under nine hours per aircraft, minimizing downtime. A2G does not work over large oceans, however, so EAN also includes satellite links.

Vueling said the EAN rollout forms one of the “significant investments” under its NEXT strategy, which spans customer experience, operational resilience and digital innovation.

The airline will offer three tiers of Wi-Fi for purchase: Fly and Chat for messaging, Fly and Surf for browsing, and Fly and More for streaming.

Vueling parent company International Airlines Group (IAG) was the launch customer for EAN, making the LCC a natural candidate for the product. Vueling is the third airline to offer EAN connectivity, after IAG carriers British Airways (BA) and Iberia.

“In total, EAN can now be accessed on more than 250 routes covering key destinations across Europe, including London, Madrid, Barcelona, Geneva and Rome. To date, almost five million passengers have traveled on more than 35,000 flights with access to EAN,” satellite communications specialist Inmarsat, one of the partners that created EAN, said.

Lessons from EAN are now being used to create similar A2G networks in Saudi Arabia, the wider Middle East and China, with other countries also showing interest.

Victoria Moores, victoria.moores@informa.com