Tenzing Communications has announced that its in-flight e-mail and limited-content web service will be fitted across Varig's fleet of Boeing 777 aircraft, beginning the fourth quarter of 2001.

Varig, Latin America's largest airline, will make regional content available to passengers and offer '24/7' customer service in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Passengers will access the service by plugging their laptops into Varig's in-flight entertainment system, Matsushita's MAS 3000. Content will come from Tenzing's server and a satellite connection to the Tenzing Global network.

Users will have access to free web content from news, sports and entertainment sites, but this is likely to be cached on the local server. Although updated every few minutes, full roaming Internet access will probably not available until Tenzing moves to broad-band connections.

Alan Pellegrini, Tenzing's president and chief executive, says: "Tenzing and Varig are joining together to bring in-flight connectivity to Latin American travellers and raising the bar for customer service in airline travel in the region. "Varig represents Tenzing's entry into the South American market and demonstrates continued validation and support of the service."


Roberto Macedo, Varig senior vice-president, marketing and sales, says the company is offering frequent business travellers the most comprehensive in-flight connectivity in Latin America.

The cost of using the service is undisclosed and Tenzing is not releasing details of the available bandwidth, but the server updates and email are likely to be available via L-band satellites at about 56kbps - the same as a telephone modem. Tenzing will migrate to broadband technology as and when it becomes viable and affordable.

It has been a good week for Tenzing. Five days ago it announced that Airbus was taking a 30% share in the company, making Tenzing the preferred supplier on its aircraft.

Rival provider 'Connexion by Boeing' has not been left out. It announced Lufthansa as the European launch customer for its broadband (Megabit) service earlier in the show.

Source: Flight Daily News