Don’t switch off your mobile phone on this Emirates flight

March 21st, 2008 - 11:27 am ICT by admin  

Dubai, March 21 (IANS) Emirates has become the first commercial airline in the world to provide in-flight mobile telephony service to passengers, the company said. The first authorised mobile phone call from a commercial flight was made Thursday at 30,000 feet on board an Emirates Airbus A340-300 aircraft flying from Dubai to Casablanca in Morocco.

The aircraft is the first in the airline’s fleet to be equipped with the AeroMobile system, according to a company statement.

“All seats across our fleet are already equipped with in-seat phones, as well as email and text messaging capabilities via the in-seat entertainment system,” Emirates chairman and chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum said in the statement.

“As the world leader in innovation for our customers, we are delighted to now offer them the choice of using their own mobile phones to contact friends, family or colleagues while flying with us.”

He said Emirates customers were already making over 7,000 calls a month from the in-seat phones.

Over the past 18 months, Emirates and AeroMobile worked closely with regulators and telecommunications providers across the globe, completing rigorous testing and certification processes, according to the airline.

“We are delighted to join Emirates in delivering a genuine world first for the airline industry,” AeroMobile chief executive Bjorn-Taale Sandberg said.

“We know that many airlines are interested in AeroMobile and will be keen to follow Emirates’ lead.”

According to the firm, Emirates cabin staff and information videos will advise and encourage passengers to switch their phones to silent or vibrate mode when used in the aircraft.

In addition to calls, the service will also allow passengers to send and receive text messages, with charges in line with premium international roaming rates. Users will be billed on their regular phone bills by their own service providers as with any other roaming call.

On aircraft where the AeroMobile system has not been installed, existing rules banning the use of mobile phones by passengers remain in force.

The airline will be investing $27 million to fit its fleet with the AeroMobile system, which ensures that passenger mobile phones operate at their absolute minimum power, thereby allowing their safe use on the aircraft.

A second aircraft, a Boeing 777-300, has already been installed with the AeroMobile system and will be in operation shortly.

From flying its first routes out of Dubai in 1985 with two leased aircraft, Emirates now flies to over 100 destinations in 62 countries with its fleet of 113 aircraft.

In fiscal 2006-2007, Emirates carried 17.5 million passengers and 1.2 million tonnes of cargo.

The airline’s current aircraft order book stands at 244 aircraft, with a total value of around $60 billion.

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