Air Canada will begin offering WiFi on North American flights next month with a plan to offer the service on all its North American narrow-body aircraft by the end of next year.
The airline has two Airbus A319 planes offering WiFi now in a test project and has hooked up with in-flight WiFi provider Gogo to equip 29 aircraft this year and the rest of its Airbus, Embraer and Bombardier planes by 2015.
"In today's connected world, our customers want to access e-mail, mobile device applications and the Internet wherever they are, both to increase their work productivity and expand their leisure options," Ben Smith, Air Canada executive vice-president and chief commercial officer said in a statement Wednesday.
The deal with Gogo includes testing a WiFi system for international flights, Air Canada said.
Gogo Inc., based in Itasca, Ill., said about 2,000 aircraft now use its service.
WestJet Airlines Ltd., said in February that it has signed a deal with Panasonic Corp. of Japan to offer a new entertainment system on its Boeing 737 aircraft that allows passengers to watch television and movies and gain access to the Internet with their electronic devices.
As well as a marketing tool, the move to offer WiFi will also boost Air Canada's revenue.
Charging for WiFi service is part of the effort by all airlines to raise ancillary revenue, or funds generated from services or other fees in addition to airfares.
The direct charge for the services is one way of raising money, but airlines also encourage passengers to shop online and onboard for boutique items such as perfume and chocolate.
Airline's CEO earned $7.8-million
Air Canada's chief executive received more than $7.8-million in compensation last year as he oversaw a dramatic turnaround in the airline's financial performance and share price.
According to regulatory documents filed ahead of airline's annual meeting in May, Calin Rovinescu's total compensation was down from $9.5-million in 2012, when he received a $5-million award on the third anniversary of this employment with the carrier. That one-time payment was part of a 2009 employment contract that lured him from Canaccord Genuity, the investment bank where he was a co-founder.
Excluding this retention payment, Rovinescu's compensation increased 72 per cent from the $4.5-million he received in 2012, which in turn was up from almost $4-million in 2011.
His salary was unchanged at $1.4 million in 2013, but share-based awards surged to $2.6 million, stock options to $1.24 million and his annual bonus to $2.26 million. He also had a $290,800 pension value.
Rovinescu oversaw dramatic financial improvements at the country's largest airline in last year.
Among other things, he was credited with achieving a record $384 million in adjusted profits, a 14.7 per cent improvement in on-time performance and the launch of the Air Canada Rouge low-cost subsidiary. He also oversaw new pension funding regulations with the federal government, the development of international routes and reached or surpassing cost-reduction targets.
Air Canada's shares had the best performance of any Canadian company last year, more than tripling in value.
The Canadian Press