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Emirates celebrates first AeroMobile anniversary

20th March 2009 - 15:36 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Emirates has been offering the AeroMobile onboard cellphone service to passengers for exactly a year.

The Dubai-based carrier introduced the voice and data service on March 20 last year. To date more than 160,000 passengers have logged on to the service, with about a third of the travellers on each flight switching on their phones. The first 50,000 log-ons took nine months from service launch to the end of last year, the second less than two months and the third just a month as the number of equipped aircraft grew and passenger awareness built up.

The AeroMobile system has been fitted to a total of 32 Emirates aircraft, making it available on one in every four of the carrier’s flights. Emirates Engineering is installing the equipment on the rest of the fleet at a rate of about one aircraft every ten days.

“Using this service has become second nature to our passengers, who love the convenience of being able to stay in touch when they choose to,” says Patrick Brannelly, VP for passenger communications and visual services. “It has proved popular with passengers on all flights to all destinations, and not just with business people but also with leisure travellers. Many people switch on but don’t necessarily make a call, showing that they like the idea of being contactable. And it’s clear that passengers prefer using their own familiar phones rather than the seatback provision.”

Emirates’ experience continues to cut the ground from beneath assertions, particularly in the USA, that the introduction of voice services would provoke air rage incidents. “The early concerns about potential impact on other passengers have proved, as expected, to be unfounded,” says Brannelly. “We very rarely see multiple simultaneous calls, and most calls are shorter than a couple of minutes. Text messaging is very popular, and the feedback from our customers is full of enthusiasm.”

The service is currently operational on five Emirates types - the Boeing 777-200 and -300, plus the Airbus A330-200 and A340-300 and -500. It is due to be implemented on the carrier’s 777-300ERs from May.

* Emirates has announced that it is taking Airbus A380s off its Dubai-New York route and replacing them with Boeing 777-300ERs following a recession-related decline in passenger numbers. The two A380s will be redeployed to Dubai-Toronto and Dubai-Bangkok from June 1. The airline says it will re-evaluate the A380 for the New York route when economic conditions improve.

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