Oman Air has laid claim to an in-flight first with the announcement that both mobile voice calls and broadband internet will be available onboard its aircraft.
The airline said today (March 2) that it was “the first airline in the world” to offer both services at the same time, to passengers flying long-haul on its fleet of A330s.
But a spokesperson for Oman Air said many other airlines were “hot on its heels”. This includes Kingfisher, which three years ago selected OnAir’s mobile and internet service, the same technology behind Oman Air’s service.
Kingfisher had planned to install the service in 2009, but this appears to have been delayed. “OnAir told us that we were the first to offer both services,” Oman Air’s spokesperson said.
Passengers can now use their mobile phones at all times except during take-off and landing, with users connecting to the onboard OnAir mobile network.
Mobile services will be of a “roaming nature, as on a foreign network” so international dialling numbers must be used. Passengers should check roaming charges with their mobile provider.
An onboard wifi hotspot will also be provided by OnAir, allowing passengers to access high-speed broadband internet on their laptops or wifi-enabled smartphones and PDAs. Emails, via a web-based client, and web-chat will incur an extra cost.
Oman Air is the latest airline to call on the services of OnAir. As well as Kingfisher, OnAir also notably provides mobile services onboard British Airways’ A318 all-business LCY-JFK flight, although this service does not include voice calls. (See online news September 29.)
Other OnAir airline customers include Bmi, Ryanair and Royal Jordanian for mobile services, and Air Asia X and Qatar for in-flight internet.
In October Lufthansa announced a partnership with Panasonic to resurrect its FlyNet in-flight broadband service (see online news October 12).
Oman Air’s internet package is expected to cost $29.95 for 26MB per flight. Webmail and unlimited web-chat will cost $9.95 and $4.95 respectively.
Report by Andrew Gough