Ryanair passengers to get turned on mid-flight

30 Aug 2006

“I’m on the plane!” could be the new catchcry of the annoying public mobile phone user following a deal announced by Ryanair which will enable passengers to make calls from their handsets.

Following a deal between the airline and onboard communications provider OnAir, Ryanair’s fleet of Beoing 737 aircraft will be fitted out with OnAir’s technology. It will be the first European airline to offer Europe-wide mobile telephony services during flight to passengers using their own handsets.

OnAir intends to fit 50 Ryanair aircraft during the second half of 2007, with the remainder of the 200-plus fleet receiving installations from early 2008 onwards.

The Mobile OnAir service that will be deployed uses advanced lightweight onboard technology to allow passengers to make and receive calls, exchange SMS messages and connect to email via satellite broadband links and a ground network to be supplied by OnAir’s telecoms infrastructure partner, Monaco Telecom.

OnAir’s service allows mobile phone operators to charge passengers using Mobile OnAir at rates in line with current international roaming charges on passengers’ normal monthly bills. Ryanair will receive a commission from OnAir on call revenues generated by passengers on board its aircraft.

Announcing the new service initiative, Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary said: “The revenues generated by onboard mobile telephony will reduce our costs and help us to keep offering the lowest fares in Europe while at the same time doubling the size of our operation over the next five years as we grow to carry 80 million passengers annually by 2012.”

George Cooper, CEO of OnAir, added: “We are delighted that Ryanair is to become the first carrier to install Mobile OnAir throughout its fleet. Not only is Ryanair one of the world’s most innovative airlines, but the deal is also a strong endorsement of the all-round capability of our solution for both Boeing and Airbus aircraft”.

By Niall Byrne