Nico Bezuidenhout. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Nico Bezuidenhout. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

LOW-cost airline Mango has announced plans to offer a free in-flight Wi-Fi service on flights between Durban and Johannesburg during the festive season until the end of January.

The airline, which said it aimed to break midair Wi-Fi connectivity records during this time, launched its G-Connect In-Flight Wi-Fi service in May this year.

Mango expects to transport more than 75,000 passengers on its Durban-Johannesburg route from now until January 31.

CEO Nico Bezuidenhout said on Tuesday: "In line with our current above-average (Wi-Fi) uptake ratio of approximately 9%-10%, our aim is to break all records with a target of more or less 20% of traveller volume on the route."

With uptime of more than 95% and average speeds of 1Mbs, Mango said its Wi-Fi service exceeded many terrestrial options.

"Even during the (current) beta phase, system performance has been exceptional. We are confident that when we put the service to the ultimate test by inviting a legion of connections, it will stand up to the challenge," said Carel van der Merwe, CEO of G-Connect parent company Wireless-G.

Mr van der Merwe said the record attempt would help ensure technical readiness as the system exited its beta phase.

Next year, Mango plans to introduce on-demand entertainment, live television and limited games across its in-flight Wi-Fi network.

Mr Bezuidenhout said the skies had long been the last refuge from constant connectivity, but that was changing.

"Imagine an experience beyond e-mail, browsing and tweeting; a fully interactive and user-led entertainment basket available at the click of a mouse or a swipe on a tablet," he said.