AirBaltic readies to introduce Apple iPad as IFE

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Latvian carrier airBaltic is laying claim to the distinction of becoming the first airline in Europe to introduce Apple iPads for in-flight entertainment (IFE).

The carrier in a statement says iPads will become available to airBaltic passengers in "the coming season", offering customers "movies, cartoons, music, games, or daily news from electronic newspapers".

AirBaltic serves more than 80 destinations from its home base at North Hub Riga, Latvia. The carrier "is the first airline in Europe and the second airline in the world to introduce Apple iPad for its customers", says airBaltic chief commercial officer Tero Taskila.

In June 2009 ATI reported that Bluebox had secured airBaltic as a rollout customer for the latest model of its portable IFE unit, the "Bluebox Lite", which is manufactured by Samsung.

It is not immediately clear if airBaltic is tapping Bluebox for its iPad-based portable IFE devices.

Qantas Group's low-cost subsidiary Jetstar Airways made headlines in June when it announced plans to become the first airline to rent iPads as in-flight entertainment under a special partnership with BlueBox and content service provider Stellar Inflight.

But Jetstar is not alone in its intention to turn the popular touchscreen computer into portable IFE. Malaysia Airlines, for example, plans to introduce iPads to passengers.