Chinese airline to launch inflight cell phone, Internet service

HONG KONG, Sept 3, 2007 (AFP) – Shenzhen Airlines said Monday passengers will soon be able to use their mobile phones and connect to the Internet during flights. Airlines have previously provided onboard air-to-ground fixed telephones on some seats at a premium charge. But until now they have banned the use of mobiles. Swiss-based technology firm OnAir, which is providing the service, said the move will allow travellers to call and send text messages from their mobile phones and access the Internet on laptops during flights.

The company said it aimed to set up the service on the airline, which is based in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, by mid-2009.

They also hope three demonstrator aircraft will be in use by the Beijing Olympics next year. Shenzhen will be the first Chinese airline to offer the service.

OnAir has previously signed deals with various European and Asian airlines that want to carry the technology, the firm said.

Benoit Debains, chief executive officer of OnAir, said in a statement that China was a significant and fast growing aviation market.

Shenzhen Airlines President Li Kun said: “We are very proud to be the