Ryanair and OnAir launch Europe’s first fleet wide inflight mobile phone service

Ryanair, Europe’s largest low fares airline has launched its inflight mobile phone service initially onboard 20 of its mainly Dublin based aircraft. This is the first step in fitting Ryanair’s entire fleet of over 170 aircraft to allow all passengers to make and receive mobile calls and texts on all Ryanair flights.

Passengers on Ryanair’s 20 OnAir enabled aircraft can now make and receive voice calls at (non–EU) international roaming rates (£1.50-£3 pm) text messages (40p+) and email (£1-£2) using their mobile phones, BlackBerry’s and other smartphones. These price tariffs are set by each mobile service provider and are subject to each customer’s individual price plan.

The service will initially be available to O2 customers and to customers of over 50 other mobile phone operators across Europe. At the launch OnAir confirmed that it is working with other UK mobile operators, Vodafone, Orange and 3, to ensure that their customers can also keep in touch with the office, family and friends when travelling.

To access Mobile OnAir, passengers simply switch on their GSM-enabled phones when cabin signs indicate that the Mobile OnAir service may be used. As long as their mobile service provider has a roaming agreement with OnAir, passengers are able to use GSM and GPRS services as seamlessly as they would on the ground.

Phones or BlackBerry-type devices connect to an antenna onboard the aircraft and a mini-GSM network. The mini-GSM network sends the calls and data via an Inmarsat SwiftBroadband satellite link to the ground where it connects to the OnAir ground infrastructure. This then routes the calls and data to public networks (mobile and fixed network operators).

Michael O’Leary said: “Today’s launch by Ryanair and OnAir is the first step to offering in-flight mobile phone services onboard our entire fleet of over 170 aircraft over the next 18 months. This service will allow passengers to keep in touch with the office, family or friends. We expect customer demand for this service to grow rapidly and hope that customers of all UK mobile operators will soon be able to call or text home from 30,000 feet to tell loved ones of yet another on time Ryanair flight.”

Benoit Debains, CEO of OnAir, added: “Mobile OnAir is the most advanced inflight communications service in the world and this European fleet-wide rollout marks a real milestone in aviation. We are proud to work with Ryanair, the world’s largest international scheduled airline, and to provide their 67 million passengers with access to this new technology which will enable them to send and receive emails, text messages, download attachments and make and receive calls just as they would on the ground.”