DN - Defence Notes

Asians speak up for onboard cellphone

21st January 2009 - 17:31 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Nearly 60 per cent of the Asian citizens interviewed for a recent Microsoft-sponsored survey said that inflight use of mobile phones should be allowed.

The news leaves the United States backed ever more deeply into the Luddite corner. Though one poll has indicated a softening in American public attitudes (Inflight Online, September 15, 2008), another, by leading market research provider Forrester Research, showed that just 16 per cent of US travellers would welcome the ability to use cellphones inflight. And while the much derided Hang Up Bill is currently becalmed in Congressional process, it remains a threat to the prospects of the passenger communications industry in the USA.

There’s no such anxiety in Asia, however. The “How Mobile Are You” survey commissioned by Microsoft Windows Mobile polled nearly 2,500 respondents in five countries - Australia, China, India, Japan and Taiwan. Some 58 per cent of the people interviewed said that mobile phones should be allowed during flights.

The attitudes of Asians to onboard cellphone are of a piece with what they do with their phones elsewhere. Almost 80 per cent of those polled will make or receive a call while eating. Sixty per cent of Australians use a mobile while driving – that’s illegal in other parts of the world, including the UK. Some 68 per cent of Taiwanese chat away happily in the lavatory, it seems, as do 69 per cent of Indians in the cinema. Most phone-tolerant of all are the Chinese – 54 per cent of those polled would be pleased to receive a proposal of marriage by phone.

Asian enthusiasm for onboard cellphone is borne out by the number of carriers from the region that have signed up with service providers AeroMobile and OnAir. The former’s tally of committed customers comprises Emirates, Qantas, V Australia and Saudi Arabian Airlines, while Malaysia Airlines is trialling the service and says it will implement fleetwide if the outcome is satisfactory.

OnAir’s list of ten carriers committed to onboard cellphone includes no fewer than nine from the region - Malaysia’s AirAsia and its AirAsia X subsidiary, Airblue of Pakistan, Middle Eastern carrier Jazeera Airways, Kingfisher of India, Oman Air, Royal Jordanian, Shenzhen Airlines of China and new Kuwait premium carrier Wataniya.

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