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Air France and OnAir today announced the launch of a trial of inflight voice calls. Air France’s is the first inflight mobile phone service to offer the full range of mobile communications services, including voice, SMS and email.

Air France and OnAir have been testing the first international inflight mobile phone service since 17 December 2007. During the first three months, passengers were able to send and receive SMS text messages and emails, including attachments. The Mobile OnAir service uses Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband satellite connectivity to transmit voice and data signals to and from the plane.

Following positive feedback from passengers during the first half of the trial, passengers will now also be able to make and receive calls. The findings from the trial will enable Air France to decide which service customers prefer: data only or data and voice.

Starting today, passengers can use their mobile phones and GPRS devices to make and receive calls in exactly the same way as they do on the ground. To use the service, passengers simply need to have a roaming agreement, as when travelling abroad, and the cost for using this service are invoiced by their operator in the usual way.

The Air France / OnAir service is activated above 3,000 metres and allows up to six simultaneous calls, as well as unlimited SMS and emails, and is the only service to allow the downloading of email attachments. 

Patrick Roux, Vice President Marketing Air France, said : “We are taking every opportunity to offer our customers the latest cabin innovations, while continuing to make travel comfort and their well-being our main priority. During the first three months of the trial, passenger feedback has been positive regarding the features, quality of transmission and user-friendliness of the service.”

Benoit Debains, CEO of OnAir, said : “Following the success of the trial so far, we are now adding the voice function. Air France is the first carrier in the world to offer the full capability of the inflight mobile phone service, and is able to do so because of OnAir’s SwiftBroadband solution.”

The Air France trial is running on an Airbus A318 operating on routes in Europe. Customers are informed about the service via seat-back leaflets and cabin crew announcements. As during the first part of the trial, customers will be able to give their opinion on this new service. Their feedback and comments will enable Air France to assess their level of satisfaction. 


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