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Publication Date : 07-09-2012
Travellers on Singapore Airlines (SIA) will soon be able to stay connected, even at cruising altitude of about 10,000m.
The airline yesterday launched its US$50 million in-flight connectivity programme, which allows passengers to surf the Internet as well as send and receive e-mail and text messages.
The programme will be progressively rolled out over the next two years across SIA's long-haul aircraft, including the Airbus A380-800 and Boeing 777- 300ER.
"As our customers' preferences towards entertainment and connectivity options change over time, so must we," said SIA senior vice-president for product and services Tan Pee Teck.
As part of a soft launch, SIA has been offering this service since April on 14 routes, including the Singapore-Newark and Singapore-Los Angeles connections.
Under the new programme, however, services will be extended to more markets including Australia, SIA said in a statement yesterday.
The new services are offered on routes on which equipped aircraft are deployed, subject to regulatory approval from individual countries, explained SIA.
KrisWorld, the airline's in-flight magazine, will have a map showing the availability of such technology on its routes.
OnAir, a Swiss-based telecommunications company partnering SIA in the venture, said this year that it had 46 airline customers, 20 of which are also offering the online and SMS service.
These airlines include Emirates, Qatar Airways, Qantas and Hong Kong Airlines.
AeroMobile, a Britain-based company, said it had fitted out aircraft operated by Emirates, Malaysia Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.
German carrier Lufthansa is already offering the same level of functionality as SIA on some of its worldwide routes, but not on its Singapore-Frankfurt leg, although it hopes to offer this soon.
Lufthansa passengers can pay 10 euros ($12.60) for an hour of data usage or 20 euros for 24 hours of data usage, which can even be used in transit.
In comparison, SIA is offering a promotional price on this service, until Nov 30, of $25 for 30MB of data (about the size of six to eight music files) and $10 for 10MB of data.
The airline said work was also under way to "bring the next generation of in-flight entertainment offerings" to customers. This will include the latest screen and handset technology and more video and audio content.
Details will be announced in the coming weeks.
Business traveller Allen Tan, 41, said it was definitely a big plus for passengers.
"Of course, sometimes you really do want some down time, but on the other hand it's good to know you can respond to business matters whenever you need to," he said.