British Airways plans to launch text and mobile services for customers on its new all business class route from London City Airport to New York’s JFK airport later this year.
It means customers will be able to stay in touch via their own mobile phones or PDAs.
They will also be able to access the Internet and send emails from laptops fitted with GSM data cards. Voice calls may be allowed in the future subject to customer demand and feedback.
BA is the first UK airline to announce the introduction of a live communications service on transatlantic flights.
Willie Walsh, British Airways’ chief executive said: “This is a great service for our customers whom we know want to do business in the air or simply stay in touch via email or text.
“It’s a perfect fit for our new business class only services from London City airport to JFK which we will launch later this year. “
The service will be provided by Mobile OnAir using the GSM/GPRS network, the world’s most widely used and extensive network for international mobile communications.
Benoit Debains, chief executive of OnAir, said: “We’re delighted to have been selected by British Airways, one of the world’s flagship carriers, to provide the highest standard of inflight communications for their premium customers.
“British Airways has long been regarded as an industry leader and innovator, and we look forward to helping them differentiate their service offerings with Mobile OnAir.”
British Airways is to launch the twice daily business class only service, which will operate Sunday to Friday, between London City and New York’s JFK airport in autumn 2009. Eastbound flights will be non-stop.
Customers will be able to clear US customs and immigration at Ireland’s Shannon Airport, where it will refuel on the Westbound flight before arriving in the US.