Busy year ahead for OnAir as airlines launch connectivity services

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OnAir is bracing for a busy 2010 as several carriers prepare to launch the Airbus/SITA joint venture's in-flight mobile connectivity and light Internet services.

The firm's so-called 'Mobile OnAir' GSM/GPRS solution has already been installed on 59 commercial aircraft, including 50 Boeing 737s operated by Ryanair, four aircraft operated by Wataniya Airways, two aircraft at Royal Jordanian, two at British Airways and one at TAP Portugal.

Qatar is scheduled to launch Mobile OnAir before year-end. Company CEO Akbar Al Baker in October said the carrier's entire fleet should be equipped by 2014.

Customers that will in 2010 offer either Mobile OnAir or a combination of Mobile OnAir plus 'Internet OnAir' include AirAsia, AirAsia X, Oman Air, TAM, Airblue, EgyptAir, Hong Kong Airlines, Libyan Airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines.

"Not only is OnAir the only provider of services based on SwiftBroadband, the latest high-bandwidth satellite technology from Inmarsat for commercial aircraft, but it also offers GSM/GPSR services and Internet connectivity on both long- and short-haul flights with global coverage," says OnAir CEO Benoit Debains.

"With over 20 customers on four continents, our operations are expanding quickly across a range of markets and market segments."

According to a recent passenger survey, 80% of passengers who have used Mobile OnAir services on selected flights would like these services to be available on every flight, adds Debains.