Keeping people connected, Emirates in-flight mobile telephone service has clocked up its 100,000th user this week, confirming a dramatic increase in calls this year. A total of 31 Emirates passenger aircraft are now installed with the AeroMobile service, the largest of any commercial airline. The milestone was passed when a Singaporean passenger made a call from 36,000 feet during Emirates flight EK404 from Dubai to Singapore.
Thousands of passengers on 31 AeroMobile-equipped Emirates aircraft depart daily from Dubai to destinations across its global network. Over 350 Emirates short and long haul flights operate weekly with AeroMobile covering services to 49 countries.
The AeroMobile in-flight system allows passengers the choice of safely using their own mobile phones to make and receive phone calls and text messages from Emirates aircraft, with charges in line with international roaming rates. The fast-growing popularity of the service sees typically more than 30 per cent of passengers on each flight taking advantage of the award-winning system.
With the first 50,000 users in the first nine months since the system’s launch, the second 50,000 have been clocked up in less than two months.
Patrick Brannelly, Emirates’ Vice President, Passenger Communications and Visual Services, said: “The AeroMobile facility is growing in popularity day by day. The feedback has been excellent, and our passengers are clearly using the system to stay in touch, as we saw with big increases in the number of calls and SMS messages over special occasions such as the New Year period. We even saw a surge at the time of the result of the US presidential election.
“For many of our passengers, making a call on their own mobile phone during a flight has become as natural as watching their in-flight TV screens, which offer a choice of up to 1200 channels of entertainment.”
The AeroMobile service can only be used at cruise altitude and allows passengers to send and receive text messages and make and receive calls, just as they do when roaming abroad.
Following a successful launch with Emirates in March 2008 - a world first - AeroMobile-equipped aircraft have seen over 370,000 flight hours of operation. Emirates Engineering are now rapidly rolling the system out across the remainder of the Airbus and Boeing fleets. AeroMobile is presently operating on Emirates A340, A330 and B777 aircraft.
AeroMobile chief executive Bjorn-Taale Sandberg said: “As the service availability has broadened, the number of users has shot up from 10,000 a month at the end of 2008 to 25,000 a month so far this year - and it’s rising rapidly as each day goes by.
“The sharp increase is not due only to the wider availability as our system is rolled out across the Emirates fleet, but the acceptance from passengers of what a valuable and stable service it is.”
Usage data from actual flights shows that at peak times, in excess of 100 passengers are switching on their mobile phones during a flight.
Later this year, the AeroMobile system on Emirates aircraft will be upgraded to offer GPRS services. This will enable passengers to send and receive e-mails via devices such as Blackberrys and laptops with GPRS data cards.