The top three US airlines have withdrawn their financial support for the Connexion airborne internet service, a project intended to connect airline passengers to the web.
American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Airlines, which had announced their support for Connexion in June, pulled out following the September 11 attacks.
Connexion was pitched as a global, satellite-based network to enable passengers to hook up to the web and retrieve email, watch movies and play games. The service was targeted for installation on as many as 1,500 jetliners beginning in mid-2002.
Connexion would provide passengers with web connection speeds of at least 56Kbps at costs of between $10 and $20 an hour.
The three airlines, which are losing millions of dollars daily, told airline manufacturer Boeing that Connexion was among ventures they now consider expendable. Boeing said the project would remain in operation, though its launch plans have been pushed back.
A spokesperson for Boeing confirmed the airlines would come back as customers rather than as equity partners. "The three airlines understand the value of in-flight connectivity but they need to focus near-term on their core businesses."
Meanwhile, German airline Lufthansa said its plans for Connexion remain unchanged. Boeing said Lufthansa was the company's only active partner on the project.
The initial installation will be a DLH 747 aircraft, which will be equipped with the service to conduct a three-month development program prior to installation on Lufthansa's intercontinental fleet.
Boeing said the plan is to have the pilot program up and running by late 2002 or early 2003.
Boeing earlier this week announced 2,900 job cuts, boosting its total to 14,900 or nearly half the 30,000 jobs the company said it could cut by the end of next year.
The company redeployed 200 of 600 Connexion workers in late September.
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