PAL to offer mobile, wi-fi services soon

Rappler.com
Legacy carrier PAL will launch mobile and wi-fi internet services on its Asia Pacific, Australasia and North American flights by mid-2013

TAKE OFF. Legacy carrier PAL's financials are still in the red. Photo by AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Legacy carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) will launch mobile and wi-fi internet services on its Asia Pacific, Australasia and North American flights by mid-2013.

This was after PAL and Geneva-based OnAir sealed a deal to allow passengers to call, text, tweet, email and surf the Net while flying.

PAL and the global service provider of inflight connectivity solutions would retrofit Mobile OnAir and Internet OnAir on PAL aircraft — on PAL’s Airbus A330-343s and Boeing B777-300ERs, in particular — starting May.

“As the country’s leading airline, we must enable our passengers to stay in touch during flights. Connectivity is an absolute requirement for today’s travellers,” Ramon S. Ang, PAL president and chief operating officer said in a statement.

“Passenger use of the inflight GSM and Wi-Fi networks mirrors behavior on the ground, which is why having both is so important,” Ian Dawkins, OnAir chief executive said.

OnAir’s unique coverage is backed by its roaming deals with 350 mobile network operators. OnAir uses Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband network, the only one designed specifically to provide worldwide satellite coverage.

“Passenger use of the inflight GSM and Wi-Fi networks mirrors behavior on the ground, which is why having both is so important,” Dawkins added.

Not the first?

The estimated mid-year launch of PAL’s new services beat budget airline Cebu Pacific to the draw.

The Gokongwei-led budget airline had announced that it would offer wi-fi services to its long-haul flights, starting with its newly launched direct flight to Dubai.

This means Cebu Pacific’s own wi-fi services will only be offered by October.

Cebu Pacific had also partnered with OnAir to provide Wi-Fi service to passengers in the budget airline’s Airbus A330 fleet.

Cebu Pacific was then poised to be the first low-cost carrier in Southeast Asia that will provide Internet access inflight. – Rappler.com