Virgin Atlantic Airways today announced that it will become the first airline to offer e-mail and Internet facilities to all passengers from the end of the year.
The airline has signed an agreement with Tenzing Communications to provide e-mail and Internet onboard Virgin Atlantic flights through seat-back television screens or passengers` laptops. The Tenzing system utilises the aircraft satellite communications equipment for air-to-ground communications with an on-board proxy server delivering content to passengers over a cabin local area network (LAN). All passengers will be able to send and receive e-mails from their laptop, access the Internet and send text messages via the seat-back video screen, all of which are then fed to the e-mail server.
Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic, said; “Virgin Atlantic has always led the way with inflight technology and entertainment and we will continue to deliver the most advanced inflight entertainment experience available to passengers. “The introduction of e-mail and Internet capabilities will enhance our award winning inflight entertainment for all passengers, unlike other airlines who focus solely on those in business class. Economy passengers will be able to e-mail friends and surf the best of the web while business passengers will be able to remain connected and up to date with their e-mails throughout the flight.
“In traditional Virgin style we`ll add a fun element as well with e-mail messages sent from the plane showing up as being from the something like passenger`s name @emailhighclub.com ” Tenzing is the only service provider offering both broadband and narrowband solutions to airlines, allowing carriers and their passengers the most choice in technology implementation.
The new services will be integrated into the new Matsushita MAS3000 system which will be launched at the end of the year on a Boeing 747-400 and then be rolled out across the fleet.
Alan Pellegrini, president and chief operating officer for Tenzing Communications Inc. said; “Partnering with Virgin Atlantic, a true frontrunner in the airline industry, is a great success for Tenzing. Virgin Atlantic has been innovative in so many areas of passenger entertainment and comfort that it seems only natural that they would be the first airline to deploy our Internet and e-mail solution for all passengers regardless of their class of travel.”
Last year Virgin Atlantic introduced Earth Calling, a service which allows passengers to charge their air-to-ground calls to their GSM account and also allows passengers to receive their mobile calls whilst in flight. This service combined with Internet access and e-mail means passengers travelling with Virgin Atlantic will have all the facilities of a modern office at their fingertips.
Lysette Gauna, Head of Media at Virgin Atlantic said; “Earth Calling and e-mail and Internet access onboard form part of a new and exciting revamped inflight entertainment offering including a totally redesigned Hot Air magazine, a new channel line up, graphic identity and new safety video and will culminate in the launch of a new digital entertainment system at the end of the year.”
The new digital system manufactured by Matsushita will provide passengers with more than 200 hours of digital video on demand entertainment on their individual seat back television screens with the highest resolution onboard to date.