TAM's launch date of OnAir rests on approval process

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Brazilian operator TAM is eagerly awaiting delivery of its first OnAir-equipped Airbus A320 aircraft, but says it does not have a definitive date for offering the in-flight mobile connectivity service to passengers.

"The first aircraft is coming this year with the system," TAM vice-president commercial and planning Paulo Castello Branco told ATI last week in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

TAM's launch of the service, which is capable of supporting text, email and voice calls, "depends on the approval of ANAC and Anatel (National Agency of Telecommunications), as well as the legislation that authorises cell phone use only when the airplane is landed and with its doors opened", says a spokesman for the carrier.

TAM will become the first company on the continent to offer the Airbus/SITA joint venture's offering.

The carrier currently offers satellite telephone functionality plus basic text messaging and email through its IFE systems on international aircraft.

It is now studying in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFE&C) and interiors options for its new Airbus A350 XWB widebodies.

TAM holds firm orders for 22 A350s. Deliveries are slated to begin in 2013. "We have not decided on the A350 [cabin offering]. That is our main discussion at the moment," says Branco.