Investing in Space

SpaceX signs first Starlink inflight Wi-Fi deal with charter carrier JSX

Key Points
  • SpaceX signed its first deal to add Starlink satellite internet to an air carrier's fleet of planes with semi-private charter company JSX.
  • JSX announced the deal on Thursday, with CEO Alex Wilcox informing CNBC the agreement with SpaceX covers service on up to 100 airplanes.
  • The SpaceX-provided service on flights is pending regulatory approval, but Wilcox said JSX expects it to be available by the fourth quarter.
JSX

SpaceX signed its first deal to add Starlink satellite internet to an air carrier's fleet of planes with semi-private charter company JSX, as Elon Musk's firm moves into the in-flight Wi-Fi market.

JSX CEO Alex Wilcox told CNBC on Thursday that the agreement with SpaceX covers service on up to 100 airplanes. JSX currently has 77 30-seat Embraer jets in its fleet.

"We'll be the first to have [Starlink] on an airplane," Wilcox said. The co-founder of JSX, Wilcox was the former head of product development at JetBlue Airways.

SpaceX's Starlink service on JSX flights is pending regulatory approval, but Wilcox said he expects it to be available by the fourth quarter, if not earlier. Currently, a Starlink aircraft antenna is installed on a JSX airplane for testing purposes.

"The SpaceX engineers are unbelievable," Wilcox said.

Wilcox declined to provide financial details about JSX's contract with SpaceX. He noted that JSX will provide Starlink service to passengers free of charge, with no login screens required to access the network.

Starlink on JSX "will be just like home, only faster," Wilcox said.

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In-flight connectivity is a market that SpaceX has talked about disrupting since the company began offering its satellite internet service, with Starlink vice president Jonathan Hofeller recently emphasizing that the aviation Wi-Fi market "is ripe for an overhaul."

SpaceX began testing an aviation-specific version of its Starlink antenna, or terminal, more than a year ago. To date, SpaceX has launched about 2,000 Starlink satellites to support its global network.

The company has about 250,000 total Starlink subscribers, which includes both consumers and enterprise customers. Users pay $110 a month for the standard service and $500 a month for the premium tier.