Qatar Airways has announced that all its A350s and A380s will offer mobile phone and wifi signal via global IT solutions provider On Air. When this is complete the carrier will offer connectivity onboard 150 aircraft, as it already provides the service on its A320s and B787s.
On aircraft equipped with On Air services passengers can surf the internet with wifi-enabled devices including laptops and tablets, and use smartphones for calls, texting, emailing and the like via either the GSM network or wifi. Billing works on the same basis as international roaming.
On Air has regulatory approvals from over 90 countries, as well as roaming agreements with more than 350 mobile network operators.
Qatar Airways currently has 13 A380s on order, with deliveries starting in 2014. The airline also has orders for 80 A350s.
“We have been operating Mobile On Air for more than three years on some of our aircraft and it’s clear that our passengers want, and are coming to expect, inflight connectivity,” said Akbar Al Baker, chief executive officer of Qatar Airways.
“We have seen high levels of usage of the On Air services on flights to and from Europe, as well as on regional flights. The pattern emerging is that business travellers typically use mobile data, for example for email and reading the news.”
On Air serves around 50 carriers with its inflight connectivity technology, including ANA (see story), Singapore Airlines (see story) and Thai Airways (see story) and most recently Philippine Airlines (see story here).