Irish budget carrier Ryanair does not now expect to begin offering onboard mobile phone connectivity until the second quarter as the service continues to await final approval from telecom regulators.

Ryanair had hoped to embark on a 25-aircraft test of the service – using the OnAir system to enables passengers to make voice calls, SMS and e-mail over their own mobile phones and portable devices – by the end of March.

In releasing its third quarter results today, Ryanair says it now expect this test to take place between April and June.

“We are still waiting for regulatory approval and are hoping for it by the end of March,” says Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary. He says the airline has so far outfitted 17 aircraft ready for the service, which are expected initially to be deployed on services out of London Stansted.-OnAir has secured certification for its service from aviation regulators and backing for the approach of establishing a framework of mutual recognition among European telecom regulators.

It has since been working to secure approvals from the relevant national telecom regulators, in this case UK and Irish regulators Ofcom and ComReg.

“Both carried out consultations at the end of last year and we are waiting for the results, which we expect in the next few weeks,” explains an OnAir spokesman. “Thereafter, we will need to apply for a licence, with a likely start date of early April.”

Ryanair is launch customer for the OnAir service, though Air France began a single aircraft trial of the service at the end of last year after OnAir secured approval for a trial from French telecom regulators.

Source:'s sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news