Inflight mobile for new planes only, says BA

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh has said the airline will not extend in-flight mobile communications to any aircraft already in service due to cost restrictions.

The UK flag carrier will however continue to launch a mobile email, internet and texting service from OnAir on two new Airbus A318 aircrafts in September.
However, it would cost BA too much to install the systems on current aircraft, Walsh told the Sita Air Transport IT Summit 2009 conference in Cannes.

He said: “We are not planning to retrofit the equipment to existing aircraft because we believe it will be too expensive. This is a product that works best when fitting to aircraft you are taking delivery of, and we may fit to other new aircraft.”

He also confirmed that BA has no current plans to allow travellers to make inflight mobile-phone calls.

He said: “The research we have done on voice tells us that the vast majority of customers do not want it. It is not impossible but there is no demand for that product.”

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According to Sita’s Airline IT Trends Survey 2009, 70 percent of the 116 global aircraft carriers surveyed plan to introduce Wi-Fi and GSM/GPRS connectivity for short haul flights by 2012, and around 65 percent for long haul flights.

Sita is looking at how modern telecommunications capabilities could be used to automatically transmit and log flight data to airline databases, which would replace the role of black-box recorders.
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