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TAP Portugal to Trial Inflight Mobile Phone Use in Europe

TAP Portugal will trial the commercial use of mobile phones on board its Airbus A321 aircraft. It will do this in partnership with the inflight passenger communications company OnAir.The trial will take place towards the end of 2006 when OnAir’s on-board equipment developed by Airbus, Siemens and other partners, will have been fully certified, and the necessary telecommunications regulatory framework put in place, to allow for the safe use of mobile phones on commercial aircraft.

During the trial, passengers on board TAP Airbus A321 aircraft will be able to use their GSM mobile phones and other GPRS-enabled devices such as the BlackBerry or other compatible smart phones to make and receive voice calls or to send and receive SMS messages and emails.

“We are very pleased to partner with OnAir in this introduction of a technology that will add greatly to the quality of the time that our customers spend flying with us. We believe that business passengers flying within Europe will very much welcome this new capability,” said TAP CEO, Fernando Pinto.

“TAP is investing in the future and will have a definite edge on its competitors when it comes to bringing this technology to the market. This is an ideal partnership for OnAir as our research findings indicate that in-flight use of mobile phones is the number one communications choice among airline passengers particularly on short and medium-haul flights,” said OnAir CEO, George Cooper.

OnAir estimates that the addressable market for in-flight mobile telephony will be over 700 million passengers by 2009 and that the value of onboard communications will be $1.6 billion for voice and $400 million for data.