Mobile phone service onboard aircraft is arriving sooner than later.
Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair became the second airline to roll out the controversial convenience, when it allowed passengers on a flight from Gatwick to Dublin last week to make and receive voice calls, text messages and send emails, using their mobiles, BlackBerrys and other smart phones. A year ago, Emirates pioneered the move on a flight from Dubai to Casablanca.
Ryanair has fitted the facility, provided by in-flight communications provider OnAir to 20 of its aircraft, based in its homebase Dublin. The airline said the technology would be installed in its entire fleet of 170 planes over the next 18 months. Also launching the service is Royal Jordanian, which announced yesterday that it would be offered on its recently received Airbus A319 aircraft flying to India, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, also using OnAir expertise.
OnAir is working with a number of airlines set up their own systems. These include Air Asia, AirAsia X, Airblue, British Airways, bmi, Jazeera, Kingfisher, Oman Air, Shenzhen Airlines, TAM, TAP and Wataniya.
Margie T Logarta