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More than 50,000 Emirates passengers access AeroMobile

17th December 2008 - 14:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


Onboard cellphone pioneer Emirates has recorded the 50,000th access to the AeroMobile service being implemented across its fleet.

The Dubai-based carrier introduced the GSM voice and data service last March and has 23 aircraft fitted to date, with new installations taking place every week or two. 

“This figure represents the 50,000th handset that has logged on to the system,” says Patrick Brannelly, the airline’s VP for passenger communications and visual services. “Many of these people have simply switched on their phones so that they can be available if anyone calls. But I do know that the number of calls made from the air is many times more than we see with the existing seatback phones - which just goes to show that this is all about convenience.”

The milestone access was recorded a week ago on a flight from Dubai to Cairo. The passenger, a subscriber to United Arab Emirates-based mobile phone operator Etisalat, used his own phone to make a three-minute call from an Emirates Boeing 777-300. The airline has AeroMobile on 777-200s and -300s and Airbus A330-200s and A340-300s/-500s operating to a total of 72 destinations, and is still the only carrier in the world to offer a fully commercial onboard cellphone service.

During peak times more than 70 passengers per flight are switching on their phones, according to the airline. “Before installing AeroMobile we offered all passengers the ability to send and receive text messages and make phone calls from their personal seat-back systems,” says Brannelly. “Allowing them to use their own phones was the next logical step. Texting is more popular than voice calls by a ratio of about 2:1. Typically about 20 passengers use the service per flight, though some flights have many more users.”

Emirates plans to continue rolling out the system throughout the fleet over the next year. Installations can now take as little as one and half days, according to Bjorn-Taale Sandberg, chief executive of UK-based AeroMobile. “This allows fleet roll-outs to take place even more quickly than anticipated and within existing maintenance schedules. We are also increasing the global reach of our system week by week - we now have 110 roaming agreements with leading mobile operators covering more than 1.2 billion subscribers.”

Note: This replaces our original story, which stated erroneously that Emirates had logged 50,000 calls.

The Shephard News Team


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