SIA to offer in-flight connectivity with OnAir

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Singapore Airlines (SIA) will roll out in-flight connectivity on its aircraft from the first half of 2011, after signing a deal with connectivity provider OnAir.

The Star Alliance airline will introduce the service progressively on flights operated on its Airbus A380, A340-500 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, says SIA.

"Today, with the increasing importance of staying connected, and the more affordable charges made possible by the higher usage and more advanced technology, we are now fitting all our long-range aircraft with the full suite of telephony and Internet features so that our customers can stay connected," says SIA senior vice president product and services, Yap Kim Wah.

The service will give passengers access to Wi-Fi Internet, and allow them to make voice calls, send and receive text messages, and send and receive e-mails on smartphones and BlackBerry devices.

SIA offered broadband connectivity briefly on its 747-400s in 2005, before service provider Connexion by Boeing shut down a year later.

Referring to the earlier service, Yap says: "Unlike the earlier trial introduction of an Internet service, this suite of features is for full implementation and we are pleased to offer this as an added choice to our inflight programme."

OnAir's CEO Ian Dawkins, who calls the deal "significant", says: "It sends a strong signal to the industry that inflight passenger communications has come of age - and is a must-have for airlines looking to remain competitive in the future."