Those who see flying as the last oasis of peace in a world full of people shouting into their mobile phones, look away now. The day is finally dawning that passengers can legally use their mobile phones in flight. From early 2007, Air France, bmi and TAP will all be trialling technology which will enable passengers to safely use their own phones in flight on short-haul European services.
Low-cost carrier Ryanair is taking this one step further and has committed to installing the technology across its entire fleet from the second half of 2007.
After considering four different onboard passenger communications providers, Ryanair has now struck a deal with OnAir - the Airbus and SITA joint venture. Passengers using the service will pay standard roaming charges, of which OnAir and Ryanair will take a cut.
In a press briefing to highlight the agreement between the airline and OnAir, Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary was typically brash, saying the profit Ryanair would make was nominal, but Ryanair could potentially be making money from the OnAir venture within a couple of years.
O'Leary also took the opportunity to blast the Department of Transport's response to the heightened security measures introduced across all UK airports after police uncovered an alleged plot to attack passenger aircraft. "The security measures were put in place to show the DoT was doing something [about the perceived threat] when they weren't."
O'Leary also intends to plough ahead with an increase in checked baggage charges from ｣2.50 to ｣3.50 as from 1 September, regardless of the increased security measures.