OnAir looks for cost efficiencies

Affordable mobile roaming rates for airline passengers will be made possible by a deal in which OnAir becomes the first Distribution Partner for Inmarsat’s new SwiftBroadband service.

The broadband satellite-enabled Mobile OnAir service supports inflight voice, SMS and email services over passengers’ own mobile phones and other electronic devices such as the BlackBerry or Treo. In addition, airlines will be able to use Mobile OnAir to deliver useful services - such as information on connecting flights or baggage collection - direct to passengers’ own mobile devices. Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband service will also enable affordable inflight internet access through passengers’ own laptops.

“This new agreement with Inmarsat will be instrumental in helping us control our costs and ensure that we meet the quality and pricing expectations of both passengers and airlines,” said OnAir CEO George Cooper.

Inmarsat CEO Andrew Sukawaty added, “OnAir is creating a whole new market. Previously, Inmarsat’s aeronautical services targeted long-haul twin-aisle aircraft, with low bandwidth limiting the offer. Now, the development of lightweight, compact avionics systems is bringing broadband to the single-aisle, short-haul market.”

Commercial trials have been agreed with leading European airlines including bmi and TAP Portugal. The first line fit Mobile OnAir service will be launched by Air France in early 2007.