Rollout of OnAir’s internet offering advances

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OnAir is targeting a rollout of its new internet service dubbed Internet OnAir for all six airline customers by year-end as product launch carrier Oman Air prepares to operate its first Airbus A330 with in-flight connectivity in mid-February.

The Sita/Airbus joint venture's latest in-flight product will enable passengers to access the internet and VPN networks via a laptop or handheld device, and all six carriers have also opted for the firm's Mobile OnAir GSM/GPRS solution.

"We expect all six airlines to launch Internet OnAir combined with Mobile OnAir before the end of 2010," an OnAir spokeswoman says, adding after Oman introduces the service next month, Internet OnAir will go live on one other carrier every one to two months.

As Internet OnAir is deployed, carriers will determine connectivity pricing while mobile network operators will set GPRS services, she says.

Asked if OnAir expects internet access to become a larger part of the firm's business than its mobile phone service, the spokeswoman says, "We believe GMS/GPRS is the strongest direct revenue generator. Internet OnAir is complementary to Mobile OnAir."

The rollout of Internet OnAir comes as OnAir marked its 100,000th commercial flight operating with its in-flight mobile connectivity services on 20 January.

"Our 100,000th flight is a milestone," OnAir CEO Benoit Debains says in a statement. "Ramp-up in commercial use through 2009 means we are looking at 2010 as the year in which the service will become commonplace across the industry. Airlines are becoming more receptive to the benefits of the service - a differentiated offering to passengers, better customer care and very real operational gains both in efficiency and cost control."