LOS ANGELES – September 12, 2006 – Qantas Airways said it would introduce new technology early next year that will enable customers to send and receive e-mails, text messages and make calls on mobile phones or personal electronic devices. The evaluation will be conducted in the first quarter of 2007 during a three-month trial on Australian domestic routes operated with Boeing 767 aircraft.
“With an increase in business travel, Qantas is committed to investing in products aimed at improving a customer’s ability to stay connected inflight,” said Wally R. Mariani, senior executive vice president, Qantas Airways, The Americas and Pacific. “Known as an innovative airline always abreast of new technologies, Qantas will be one of the first carriers in the world to offer this service,” he added.
Dedicated to improving the overall quality of travel, Qantas business travelers were surveyed about the concept in an effort to gauge a level of interest for such a service. An overwhelming majority felt the service was a good idea, particularly pertaining to e-mail access, and when asked about the benefits, the main reasons identified were ‘an effective use of time’ and the ‘ability to be contacted’ at any given time, as a flight for many has become an integral part of the business day.
“This is the first step towards developing a product that will support our travelers’ business and communications needs into the future,” said Wally R. Mariani. “We will actively seek feedback from our passengers so we can ensure that all travelers’ preferences are carefully considered prior to introducing this type of service,” he added.
Qantas teamed with Telstra, Panasonic Avionics Corporation and AeroMobile for the trial to develop a solution to permit wireless devices to be used safely in-flight. Calls are made and received through a Picocell, a smaller version of a ground mobile cellular base station equipped for use in the air, and pass through a satellite link before reaching the ground network.
The service will be simple for travelers to use and available once the aircraft has reached a cruising altitude. Passengers wanting to make or receive a call or SMS require only a GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) phone and a global roaming account. While customers wanting to send or receive e-mails would need a GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) enabled device or an appropriately equipped laptop.
Qantas and its partners were working with the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and other agencies to ensure the system operates in accordance with Australian regulatory and legal requirements.
About Qantas Airways
Qantas Airways is a global air carrier with more than 200 aircraft offering service to 140 destinations in 40 countries. Founded in 1920, Qantas Airways in 2004 celebrated 50 years of continuous flying between North America and Australia with more non-stop flights to Australia and New Zealand than any other carrier and provides convenient connections from New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Honolulu to Indonesia, India and South Africa via the Sydney hub. Named Airline of the Year 2004 by Air Transport World magazine, Qantas Airways has long been recognized for its continued focus on excellence in the air as well as on the ground. Qantas’ Skybed received the prestigious Chicago Athenaeum Museum 2004 Good Design Award for its sleeper seat, which has just been introduced in the North American market.