AirAsia plans inflight mobile first

AirAsia is set to be the first airline in Asia to deploy OnAir mobile communications services. The service, to be deployed across the entire AirAsia fleet, will enable passengers to use their mobile phones and BlackBerry-type devices to send and receive SMS text messages, emails, and to make and receive mobile phone calls in flight. The OnAir services will be introduced by AirAsia in early 2009.

AirAsia’s entire fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft will be fitted with the OnAir equipment, including aircraft currently flying and those on order from Airbus; a total of 150 aircraft will be equipped by 2013.

AirAsia’s new venture AirAsia X, a long-haul low-cost airline, has also signed a similar agreement for OnAir’s passenger communications services, to be installed on the airline’s newly ordered Airbus A330 aircraft.

Dato’ Kamarudin Meranun, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, AirAsia, said, “We have worked very hard to strengthen our network and enhanced connectivity in the ASEAN region, and we are now working equally hard to improve the services we offer our guests. We firmly believe that offering them the ability to communicate during flight is vital in this era of information technology.”

Benoit Debains, CEO of OnAir, said, “This deal validates the benefit of OnAir’s service to low-cost carriers, in providing both enhanced service and an ancillary revenue stream. It also demonstrates that we are gaining a foothold in the Asian market, currently the most dynamic and exciting region for aviation. We are particularly pleased to be working with AirAsia, which is taking such a leading role in this region.”
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