Virgin Blue’s newly detailed long-haul carrier V Australia is to enable passengers to use their mobile phones and GPRS-based devices onboard after becoming the first carrier to sign up for in-flight entertainment provider eXPhone service, provided in conjunction with AeroMobile.
V Australia today announced plans to begin operations this December, initially launching daily flights between Sydney and Los Angeles using Boeing 777-300ERs.
Panasonic has also today unveiled V Australia as the first customer for its eXPhone system, which will be installed on the aircraft during production at Boeing. The airline will fit the system on all its aircraft. The carrier’s parent, Virgin Blue, ordered six Boeing 777-300ERs last summer for the operation. It has also leased an additional aircraft from lessor International Lease Finance and holds options with Boeing on six more 777s.
The system uses the technology from Arinc/Telenor joint venture AeroMobile – which began operations of its service enabling passengers to use their mobiles onboard on launch customers Emirates earlier this month – offered under a co-operation deal between the two.
Mobile services will initially be supported using Inmarsat’s Swift64 satcom service, before its higher speed SwiftBroadband service is introduced in the Australasian and Pacific regions in 2009.
The airline and AeroMobile are currently working on securing the necessary regulatory approval to enable the service to be deployed for flights linking Australia with the US.
Virgin Blue Group of Airlines CEO, Brett Godfrey, says: “It is part of our strategy to provide guests with the freedom to do what they want when they want, whether it be SMS and emails, on-demand movies or eating when they are hungry. It’s about freedom of choice and giving travellers the option to stay in touch while in the air.”
Panasonic CEO Paul Margis says: “Our long-term vision is providing solutions that keep passengers connected. We are delighted V Australia is our first customer for our eXPhone solution.”
Earlier this month Qantas, which last summer carried out a trial of AeroMobile’s data services, opted to roll-out in-flight mobile text and e-mail services on domestic flights using AeroMobile’s service.
Source: flightglobal.com's sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news