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Survey of business travellers slams plans for onboard cellphone telephone calls

A survey of business travellers has rejected plans to extend cellular telephone networks to aircraft cabins, with passengers fearing increased incidents of air rage.

The International Airline Passengers Association (IAPA) has published a survey revealing that there could be widespread opposition from passengers to impending plans to introduce mobile phones on aircraft. Those polled fear onboard telephony would be disruptive, anti-social and possibly even dangerous.

Arinc and Telenor joint venture AeroMobile believes up to 20 aircraft could be flying before the end of the year fitted with its airborne transmitter for the global system for mobile (GSM) communications. Rival Airbus / Sita venture OnAir is starting trials with Air France this year and has launch customers including TAP Air Portugal and BMI intent to start flying with the service next year. One-third of all carriers are expected to adopt the facility next year.

Onboard telephony W445
© AeroMobile

However, the survey found that although 90% of IAPA members who took part in the research carry mobile phones when travelling, only half of the respondents said they would find it useful to be able to make calls during a flight, and many were violently opposed to the development.

“The vast majority of comments received were against the introduction of mobile phones onboard aircraft for social reasons. Most members expressed concerns that they would not be able to escape from the sound of phones ringing and other passengers chatting,” says IAPA.

IAPA manager, government and industry affairs, Nancy McKinley says: “We hope that airlines will take these comments into consideration when weighing up the pros and cons of installing this facility onto their aircraft, and urge that if they do so they will create quiet zones or phone-free times to lessen the potentially disruptive impact of such as move.”

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