Qatar Airways offers conditional mobile phone services

27 Jul 2009

Qatar Airways will be offering in-flight mobile phone services in October, which come with the flexibility to turn off all or parts of the system during certain periods of the journey.

Akbar Al Baker, the carrier’s CEO, said the first aircraft to be equipped with the Mobile OnAir system is an Airbus A320. He added that the entire fleet would feature the convenience by 2014. Passengers will be able to speak on their mobile phones as well as access emails and the internet, although not at all times.

“We have the capability to switch off all the mobile communications if we find out that it is bothering passengers,” Al Baker said during a briefing with reporters at the opening of Qatar’s new Washington DC office. He said the experience of their competitors had been teaching them that “passengers are getting (annoyed), especially at certain times of the flight –  at night for example”.

Mobile phone use, he stressed, would “definitely” not be allowed during the hours allocated for customers’ rest and the mobile phone functionality could also turned off if people were bothered by others talking loudly. And if the sound of emails being received disturbed the serenity of the cabin, internet functionality could be stopped too.

But passengers would be given sufficient warning, Al Baker said, adding “if the requirements are not met…the system will be switched off”.

OnAir, in initially announcing the deal with Qatar in April, said the carrier had opted for non-voice mobile although the system can be changed to allow mobile calls if demand warrants. 

Al-Baker is currently in the US on a three-city blitz of hub cities in a publicity campaign marking the second anniversary of Qatar entering the US market with flights to New York and Washington, DC, direct from the airline’s hub in Doha, capital of the State of Qatar. The airline recently added Houston as its third US gateway city.

For more details on Qatar’s new routes, visit

Margie T Logarta

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