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October 06, 2010

Singapore Airlines, OnAir to Provide In-flight Connectivity

By Shamila Janakiraman, TMCnet Contributor

Singapore Airlines announced that it will launch a full suite of in-flight connectivity services, which will be introduced progressively on flights operated by the airline’s A380, A340-500 and Boeing (News - Alert) 777-300ER aircrafts. The on-board services will be rolled out in the first half of 2011.

The connectivity services in the Singapore Airlines flights will be made possible by in-flight connectivity provider OnAir. The carrier will introduce a range of onboard communication offerings, providing passengers with access to WiFi (News - Alert), Internet and mobile services.

Even while traveling at a height of 35,000 feet, passengers will be able to use the mobile services to make and receive voice calls, send text messages with their GSM-compatible mobile phones and send and receive e-mail messages easily on smartphone and BlackBerry (News - Alert) devices, said Airline sources.

In a release, Singapore Airlines’ senior vice president of product and services, Yap Kim Wah, said, “Singapore Airlines was in fact one of the pioneers to introduce Internet connectivity on board its Boeing 747-400 aircraft in 2005. Today, with the increasing importance of remaining connected, and the more affordable charges made possible by the higher usage and more advanced technology, we are now fitting all our long-range aircraft with the full suite of telephony and Internet features so that our customers can stay connected.”

“Unlike the earlier trial introduction of an Internet service, this suite of features is for full implementation, and we are pleased to offer this as an added choice to our in-flight program,” Wah added.

Customers who are used to leveraging connectivity options whereever they are will now benefit from the same services offered on board. The Singapore Airlines aircrafts are fitted with the new connectivity platform making traveling for business or pleasure better. Passengers are just a click or a text message away, with access to live information, social networking and news updates, as well as in-flight shopping.      

Singapore Airlines’ connectivity partner OnAir is jointly owned by Airbus and SITA, a provider of global IT and telecommunication solutions for the air transport industry. It also offers global satellite coverage in the Asian region. The company has roaming agreements with about 200 telecommunications companies globally for providing onboard connectivity.

Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir, remarked, “We are absolutely delighted to have come to an agreement today with an airline of the stature and reputation of Singapore Airlines. The agreement is extremely significant. It sends a strong signal to the industry that in-flight passenger communications has come of age and is a must-have for airlines looking to remain competitive in the future.”

It was also revealed that customers who use the mobile services will be charged for their usage, which can be seen in their monthly bills from their telecommunications service provider where international GSM roaming rates apply. For Internet access, customers can sign up for an access package upon logging in to the system. More details will be announced before the launch.

Shamila Janakiraman is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Shamila’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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