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Wataniya set to offer first commercial OnAir service

8th January 2009 - 16:24 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


New Kuwait-based premium carrier Wataniya Airways has brought forward its in-service date to January 24, increasing the chances that the airline will be the first to offer the OnAir onboard cellphone service on a full commercial basis.

TAP Portugal and bmi are currently trialling OnAir, while Ryanair continues to incubate what would be the biggest such trial to date. But Wataniya leads the pack of carriers who have said they will offer the service, no strings attached.

Originally due to enter service next month, Wataniya now plans to launch two flights a day to Dubai on January 24, operating the first of four leased Airbus A320s from the Royal Terminal at Kuwait International Airport.

The Wataniya A320s will be fitted with 122 seats – compared with a European standard of about 145 – divided between first-class and premium economy cabins. Both cabins will have leather seats from Recaro of Germany.

Inflight entertainment will be provided by Thales’ TopSeries i-4000 AVOD system serving 10.6in screens in the 26 first-class seats. Also offered in every seat will be laptop power from Airbus KID-Systeme and ports allowing passengers to plug in their own iPods and other MP3 devices and play the content on the screen.

In the 96 premium economy seats Thales’ i-2000 broadcast system will deliver six channels of audio to each seat and video to overhead dropdown screens. The channel selector is the same as the unit designed for the Boeing 787; it will fly for the first time in the Wataniya A320s. There will be two power sockets for every three seats.

“Passengers will pay international roaming prices to use the OnAir service,” says chief executive George Cooper. “We will start with text messaging and email to gauge passenger reaction before giving any thought to activating the voice capability. If we do add voice, we will require a capacity of 12 simultaneous calls.”

The Shephard News Team


The Shephard News Team

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