bmi has become the first British carrier to offer its passengers an inflight communications service including the use of SMS-enabled mobile phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants). It will also allow access to the internet and email from laptop computers fitted with GSM data cards.
The service, which is being supplied by industry leader OnAir, will be trialled for six months on a single Airbus A320 aircraft operating between Heathrow and Moscow. The UK launch follows the granting of telecommunications regulatory approval by Ofcom.
Peter Spencer, managing director of bmi, said: “We are delighted to be working with OnAir to make this service available to customers. It opens up an exciting new era of travellers being able to stay in touch by text message and email whilst in the air.
“Our research tells us that our business passengers in particular have two key concerns - getting through the airport quickly and being able to carry on working during their journey, so we’re confident that many will warmly welcome this service.
“The trial will help us address some of the social and etiquette issues regarding the use of mobile communications devices inflight and provide valuable customer feedback which will be at the heart of deciding how the service is developed and rolled out across the remainder of our mid haul fleet. We have chosen not to implement the voice call option as part of the trial.”
Benoit Debains, chief executive of OnAir, said: “With the start of bmi’s trial, Mobile OnAir is now flying on two airlines in Europe, making OnAir the leading provider of inflight passenger communications services. Mobile OnAir is the only service today which offers SwiftBroadband and it has already flown to 53 cities in 24 countries in Europe and North Africa.”