Japan Airlines and Connexion by Boeing signed a letter of intent at Farnborough yesterday making the carrier the Asian launch customer for the high-speed mobile information services provider.

The agreement calls for the broadband communication service to be installed on 10 of JAL's long-haul aircraft as part of the first step, with additional aircraft options for future expansion of the service. Financial terms were not disclosed.

While aircraft types for the initial service installations and the exact timing have yet to be determined, the primary focus for the first installations will be the Japan-to-Europe route.

The cost to passengers for the broadband internet service is likely to be around $30 per flight segment, the price currently favoured by both Lufthansa and Connexion for the German airline's trial.

Boeing predicts that the first JAL aircraft will be equipped in the first quarter of 2004.

Connexion by Boeing President Scott Carson says, "The Asia-to-Europe route contains one of the highest concentrations of mobile, technology-focused travellers and also links two of the largest population sectors in the world.

"We want everyone at Farnborough to know that global connectivity is back on the agenda."

Speaking at the show, Japan Airlines' managing director Akihiko Kaji says: "The needs of the business traveller for an in-flight IT environment are growing year by year.

"In our ongoing effort to offer the best customer value in the world, we believe it is essential to provide broadband/real-time, in-flight Internet connectivity."

Boeing says that it is currently talking to 15 more airlines about adopting the airborne data service.

Source: Flight Daily News