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April 11, 2011

Kiwi Passengers Stay Connected with OnAir's Inflight Services

By Mini Swamy, TMCnet Contributor

February 2011 was a red letter day in the history of Air New Zealand’s new domestic black liveried A320 fleet as it heralded the introduction of the much awaited and much needed inflight mobile phone services, for which OnAir (News - Alert) takes credit.

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Apart from being the first aircraft in the country to have OnAir services, Air New Zealand was the first Pacific airline to roll out these services on a permanent basis. Currently, two aircraft are offering the service on specific domestic routes with two more slated to be deployed at the end of 2011.

“The decision of Air New Zealand to expand our services to two additional domestic aircraft is significant. It shows there is a demand from passengers to be able to make and receive calls, send sms, and check emails in the plane. The agreement also reinforces OnAir’s position on all continents by expanding into the Pacific region but also sends another strong signal to the industry that inflight passenger communications has come of age, and is a must-have for airlines looking to remain competitive in the future,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir, in a press release.

Introduction of inflight services means that passengers need no longer worry about not being able to stay connected. They can use their mobile phones to make calls, text, send e-mails and mobile data just as they did before boarding the aircraft.

According to Captain David Morgan, Air New Zealand’s general manager of airline operations, the new inflight technology uses an aircraft-based cell site and Inmarsat (News - Alert) satellites, hence mobile phones can be used onboard the new domestic A320 aircraft safely to stay in touch by text, phone call and e-mail

Morgan further added in a statement that feedback from customers showed how important it was for them to be able to stay in touch with work colleagues, friends and family while they were in the air and noted that the new inflight technology underlined the airline's commitment to provide its customers with innovative solutions to meet their needs.

In a related news release, TMCnet reported that OnAir and Aeroconseil will, in the coming months, begin fitting nineteen B777 aircraft from the Singapore Airlines fleet with onboard GSM and WiFi (News - Alert) technology. Aeroconseil will cover the engineering and certification aspects of the changes alongside OnAir, which is providing equipment and the connectivity services to passengers' mobile devices. 



Mini Swamy is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell