Ryanair to offer Full In Flight Mobile Phone Access for All Passengers

Travel News Asia Monday, 4 September 2006

European low cost airline, Ryanair and onboard passenger communications provider, OnAir have reached a deal that will see Ryanairs entire fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft fitted with OnAirs onboard mobile communications solution. The move will make Ryanair one of the first European airlines to offer Europe-wide mobile telephony services during flights across its entire fleet of aircraft to all passengers via their own mobile phones and smartphones.

The deal means that from mid 2007 (subject to relevant regulatory approval) Ryanairs passengers will be able to call, text and e-mail using their mobile phones, BlackBerrys and Treos, etc, at rates which will mirror international roaming charges. OnAir intends to fit 50 Ryanair aircraft during the second half of 2007, with the remainder of the fleet receiving installations from early 2008 onwards. 

Developed by inflight communications specialist OnAir, Mobile OnAir uses advanced lightweight onboard technology to allow passengers to make and receive calls, exchange SMS messages and connect to e-mail via satellite broadband links and a ground network to be supplied by OnAirs telecoms infrastructure partner, Monaco Telecom.

OnAirs solution allows mobile phone operators to charge passengers using Mobile OnAir at rates in line with current international roaming charges on passengers normal monthly bills. Ryanair will receive a commission from OnAir on call revenues generated by passengers on board its aircraft.

Ryanairs CEO Michael OLeary commented on the controversial new service, saying, This is a win-win for Ryanair, OnAir and most importantly our customers. The revenues generated by onboard mobile telephony will reduce our costs and help us to keep offering the lowest fares in Europe while at the same time doubling the size of our operation over the next five years as we grow to carry 80M passengers annually by 2012.

The use of mobile phones inflight is a controversial subject among passengers. Many passengers have expressed concerns about excessively loud conversations, annoying ring tones and such with some even suggesting it could lead to an increase in 'air rage'.

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