Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia is vowing to offer OnAir’s in-flight mobile connectivity solution across its entire Malaysian Airbus A320 fleet, allowing passengers to use their phones for data and voice.
Just don’t be a chatterbox, warns the carrier. In a message about cell phone etiquette, printed in the carrier’s latest in-flight magazine, AirAsia says the following:
AirAsia has already equipped five A320s with OnAir’s service, and intends to soon “gradually equip” the balance of the fleet. OnAir is a joint venture between SITA and Airbus.
“According to Airbus, the GSM onboard system allows virtually unlimited smart phone or PDA GPRS usage and up to 16 passengers can make voice calls at the same time,” says AirAsia in the publication.
Interestingly, the carrier says the OnAir system “is certified and already flying” with Finnair, India’s Jet Airways, Kingfisher and Portugal’s TAP.
Finnair and Jet? Has AirAsia let the cat out of the bag on two as-yet-undisclosed OnAir customers? Both carriers have Airbus aircraft in their fleets (most especially Finnair).
I recently tapped OnAir for its year-end equipage tally. The company says it has 35 customers, of which nine are not announced yet.Out of these 35, 11 airlines are in service, as well as two VIP and onemaritime customer.
By year-end, more than 60 aircraft on those 11 airlines will be in service. While OnAir doesn’t break down the individual figures, it cops to the following active commercial customers of its mobile connectivity service: British Airways, TAP, Oman Air (plus OnAir Wi-Fi), Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, Watanyia Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines (plus Wi-Fi), Egyptair (plus Wi-Fi), Libyan Airlines, AirAsia, and TAM.
OnAir also says three additional airlines will launch in the next six months – Aeroflot, Emirates (which has taken delivery of its first OnAir Wi-Fi-fitted Airbus A380) and Singapore Airlines. Qatar will also later offer GSM/GPRS plus Wi-Fi on its long-haul aircraft.
OnAir recently celebrated its third anniversary. The company touts the following accomplishments (info care of Airbus):
1) Airbus and OnAir continue to be recognized as the market leaders for satellite-based connectivity systems (65% market share)
2) More than 20,000 pax per day are exposed to this new possibility of being connected in flight.
3) More than 250,000 SMS are exchanged monthly.
4) Not a single air rage case has been reported by any airline for using voice on board.
5) 3rd party applications are using the benefit of SBB services such as Telemedicine or update of IFE content.
6) Technical solutions are today available for all types of Airbus A/C in linefit and retrofit, but also on non-Airbus A/C.
7) OnAir recognised by CNBC as “Europe’s 25 most creative companies”
8) Telephony services launched on Hapag Lloyd “EUROPA” cruise ship (branded OnMarine).
But let’s get back to AirAsia. The carrier has made it easy for passengers to learn whether they’re flying on an OnAir-equipped aircraft or not. Check it.