Emirates to Offer Wireless Inflight E-mail, SMS

7th Jan 2004

In another inflight communications first, Emirates Airline is to offer its
passengers the world’s first regular, airborne wireless laptop service,
thanks to an agreement signed today with Tenzing Communications of Seattle,
Washington, USA. 
The Dubai-based international airline will launch the new feature in the
first quarter of this year onboard all of its new Airbus A340-500s.

Emirates is launch carrier for this new aircraft, which began operations on
1 December on the first-ever non-stop services between Dubai and Sydney.
This route means only one stop, in Dubai, for customers travelling ‘down
under’ on one of Emirates’ nine daily UK services.

The new Emirates product is the world’s first deployment of Wi-Fi e-mail
laptop connectivity in regularly scheduled commercial aviation. It will be
offered alongside the seatback e-mail and SMS already available on Emirates’
A340-500s, which let passengers send e-mails and SMSs during the flight,
using an on-screen keyboard, and receive replies. 

With the new wireless laptop system, passengers can use their own e-mail
accounts, including corporate e-mail, in a secure environment. The
ultra-long-range A340-500 will be the first aircraft to include a wireless
LAN certified for passengers’ own Wi-Fi-enabled laptop computers. Dial-up
connections to the onboard server also will be available, from passenger

Maurice Flanagan, Emirates Vice Chairman and Group President said: “The
seatback e-mail and SMS products we already provide are very popular with
passengers who are not carrying a laptop. The Tenzing service is targeted at
those who do, including business travellers who like to keep in touch with
their regular e-mail accounts on Wi-Fi.”


Passenger laptops will require minimal or no configuration to connect to the
Tenzing service. Travellers will be able to choose between hooking up via
the RJ11 dial-up method or the simpler 802.11b wireless method. First and
Business class passengers also will be able to connect using a standard RJ45
LAN connector.

Mr. Flanagan added: “Ease of connection is of major importance, and the
seats have been equipped with multiple options. Long term, wireless is the
expected norm, but currently most passenger devices have only the regular
plug types.”

Every Emirates seat in First and Business Class is also equipped with laptop
power, using a regular style US socket so that no special power adapter is
required. There are also laptop recharge points in Economy Class.

In-seat satellite telephone also is available to Emirates passengers, with
calls costing US$5 per minute to anywhere in the world. The current charge
for use of the seatback e-mail and SMS features already being offered on the
A340-500 is US$1 per message. Usage fees for the new wireless system will be
announced closer to launch date. 

Alan McGinnis, CEO of Tenzing said: “We are honoured to be working with
Emirates, an innovative airline dedicated to customer service that is at the
forefront of inflight communications and entertainment systems.”

John Leahy, Chief Commercial Officer of Airbus - an investor in Tenzing -
said: “We’re very pleased that Emirates has decided to launch Tenzing
inflight e-mail on its aircraft. This is an excellent example of
collaboration between leading service providers to offer an all-around
exceptional passenger experience. Airbus is proud to be associated with it.”



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