Budget airline Ryanair is to offer in-flight mobile phone access from next summer, pending regulatory approval.
The airline, which operates 360 routes across 23 European countries, has signed a deal with OnAir to fit mobile phone capabilities to its entire fleet of 200 Boeing 737 aircraft.
If Ryanair's plans go according to schedule, 50 aircraft will be upgraded in the second half of 2007 and the rest throughout 2008.
"Ryanair will soon enable passengers to use their mobile phones and electronic communications devices in the air, just as they do on the ground," said Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary.
The deal covers smartphones, such as RIM's BlackBerry, so that passengers will be able to send and receive emails during flights.
The price of calls will be "in line with European roaming charges", according to a statement from OnAir. The calls will appear itemised on customers' monthly bills.
Boeing recently shelved plans to roll out its Connexion in-flight internet access service, citing lack of demand.
The service was already installed on 72 long-haul aircraft with 12 carriers, including SAS and Lufthansa. Access was charged at up to US$29.95, depending on the duration of the flight.
OnAir is a joint venture with Airbus, which vies with Boeing for market leadership in commercial airliners.
Ryanair to offer in-flight mobile calls
By Andrew Charlesworth on Sep 1, 2006 10:17AM