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AeroMobile on a roll with Emirates

16th February 2009 - 13:37 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


Emirates has recorded the 100,000th passenger access to its AeroMobile-supplied onboard mobile phone service just two months after reaching the 50,000 mark. The milestone was passed yesterday when a passenger made a call during a flight from Dubai to Singapore.

This boost for the onboard cellphone community comes amidst rumours that another major connectivity development will emerge later in the week.

Emirates and UK-based AeroMobile counted 50,000 passengers switching on their phones and logging on to the service between commercial launch last March and the end of 2008, with the second 50,000 coming in less than two months.    

A total of 31 of the carrier’s aircraft are now equipped and the service is being rolled out rapidly across the rest of its 100+ Airbus A330s and A340s and Boeing 777s. Every week more than 350 short and long-haul flights to 49 countries are carried out by AeroMobile-equipped aircraft. Since last March Emirates’ AeroMobile-capable aircraft have amassed over 370,000 flight hours.

Typically more than 30 per cent of passengers are logging on, according to AeroMobile, with more than a hundred people per flight ready to make and receive calls at peak times. “The facility is growing in popularity day by day,” says Patrick Brannelly, the airline’s VP for passenger communications and visual services. “Our passengers are clearly using the system to stay in touch, as we saw with big increases in the number of voice calls and text messages during special occasions such as New Year and Valentine’s Day.”

AeroMobile chief executive Bjorn-Taale Sandberg adds: “As service availability has broadened, the number of log-ons has shot up from 10,000 a month at the end of 2008 to 25,000 a month so far this year – and it’s rising rapidly every day. The sharp increase is not due only to the wider availability as our system is rolled out across the Emirates fleet, but also to passengers’ recognition of what a valuable and stable service it is.”

Later this year the hardware on the Emirates’ aircraft will be upgraded to support GPRS data capability, allowing passengers to send and receive email via devices such as the BlackBerry and laptops with GPRS data cards. The AeroMobile system currently uses for its air-to-ground link the Inmarsat Classic Aero satellite terminals that have been installed on all Emirates aircraft for some years. These units are due to be upgraded at the earliest opportunity to the 432kbit/sec SwiftBroadband, which will make it possible to offer further features and capabilities.

AeroMobile’s customer list currently comprises Emirates plus Qantas, V Australia, Saudi Arabian Airlines and triallist Malaysia Airlines.

The Shephard News Team


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