Keep your eye on Row 44 and the inflight WiFi entertainment platform it is starting to roll out.
Row 44 is, of course, the competitor to inflight WiFi leader Aircell. Aircell has installed its land-antenna-based Gogo WiFi system on about 1,100 domestic planes, with nine airline customers. Row 44 is installing its satellite-based WiFi system on Southwest's fleet of about 540 Boeing 737s, and also has Norwegian Air Shuttle as a customer.
But Row 44's strategy is to boost value by introducing a wide range of inflight entertainment and other services in a platform specifically designed for each individual airline. I recently spent a day in Las Vegas and on a test flight with Row 44's Howard Lefkowitz, the savvy innovator who made Vegas.com into the leading purveyor of hotel, entertainment and other reservations services in Las Vegas.
More on that adventure tomorrow.
Meanwhile, here's the press release on the new link between Row 44 and Lufthansa Technik, the big German provider of aircraft maintenance and cabin design and modification services:
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., June 6, 2011 -- Row 44 Inc., provider of the world's leading in-flight broadband entertainment platform, announced today it has formed a partnership with Lufthansa Technik, global provider of manufacturer-independent maintenance, repair, overhaul and modification services to civil aviation.
As a result of this partnership, commercial airlines that select Row 44's In-flight Broadband Entertainment Platform will be able to take advantage of Lufthansa Technik's extensive and globally available installation, certification and integration services. Row 44 will certify and work closely with Lufthansa Technik to reduce installation and maintenance time and costs, reduce overall project risks, and optimize the considerable passenger – facing and airline operational advantages of the Row 44 solution for each airline customer.
Lufthansa Technik will also leverage its global reputation as an innovative and trustworthy commercial-aviation engineering firm to support successful integration of Row 44's in-flight broadband entertainment platform to airlines around the world.
"Row 44 is extending our services globally," said Vice President of Sales Frederick St.Amour. "Working with such a highly respected and successful engineering services firm as Lufthansa Technik gives us tremendous confidence that Row 44's products and airline partnerships will be well supported and highly successful worldwide. We are honoured to be working with Lufthansa Technik, and look forward to developing our relationships with them."
"This partnership reinforces Row 44's commitment to excellence for our airline partners around the world," said Howard Lefkowitz, Row 44's Chief Commercial Officer. "Lufthansa Technik's reputation for excellence is known throughout the industry, and Row 44 is proud to be able to deliver airlines such a high level of engineering service as part of our offering."
Dr. Stephan Schulte, Product Manager for Aircraft Modification and Engineering Services in IFE added: "This partnership means an important milestone in our strategy for the expansion of our installation-design engineering and certification services in the IFE and IFC market. We are happy to be given the chance to bring in our wide ranging experience and knowledge which we could successfully gain from various related projects in the past. ..."
About Row 44 Inc.
Row 44, Inc. provides the world's leading in-flight broadband entertainment platform for commercial airlines. The company's flying Wi-Fi hotspot — which delivers the world's fastest aviation broadband speeds to passengers — provides airlines with an unmatched selection of revenue-generating and experience-enhancing entertainment, shopping and destination services. The company is partnering with airlines around the world, including world-renowned Southwest Airlines and 2009 Market Leadership Award recipient Norwegian Air Shuttle, to deliver a series of truly remarkable products to improve the commercial flying experience. For more information, visit www.row44.com.
About Lufthansa Technik AG
Lufthansa Technik is one of the leading manufacturer-independent providers of maintenance, repair, overhaul and modification services in the civil aviation industry. With tailored maintenance programs and state-of-the-art repair methods, Lufthansa Technik ensures the unbroken reliability and availability of its customers' fleets. Lufthansa Technik is an internationally licensed maintenance, production and development organization. Lufthansa Technik is considered very well experienced in the integration design of IFE and IFC systems.