Boeing to Shut Down In-Flight Wi-Fi

Boeing will phase out its Connexion by Boeing service, leaving what it once considered a promising market for in-flight Internet access.

Connexion offers broadband Internet access via Wi-Fi, using a satellite connection to the Internet, that costs about US$10 to $30 per flight on commercial airlines. It also offers high-speed Internet access on executive jets and ships.

Connexion is offered on some commercial flights in Europe and Asia, but was never adopted by a major U.S. carrier. First conceived in 2000, the service was approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in May 2002 as the nation’s airlines were reeling from a travel slump that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Connexion by Boeing
Connexion by Boeing

"Regrettably, the market for this service has not materialized as had been expected," Boeing said Thursday in a written statement attributed to Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney. The company will work with customers on an orderly phase-out of Connexion, Boeing said.

The aerospace giant’s foray into broadband has been expensive. In its financial results for this year’s second quarter, Boeing said it expects to take a pretax charge of $320 million, or $0.26 per share, spread over the remainder of 2006.

-Stephen Lawson, IDG News Service (San Francisco Bureau)

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