An in-flight mobile phone service has become available on board 20 Ryanair aircraft.
The move is the first step in fitting the budget carrier"s fleet of more than 170 aircraft over the next 18 months to allow passengers to make and receive mobile calls and texts on all flights.
Passengers on Ryanair"s 20 OnAir enabled aircraft, mainly operatng from Dublin, can now make and receive voice calls at (non-EU) international roaming rates (£1.50-£3 per minute) text messages (40p+) and email (£1-£2) using mobile phones, BlackBerrys and other smartphones.
The service is only available to O2 customers and to users of more than 50 other mobile phone operators across Europe.
Provider OnAir is working with other UK mobile operators Vodafone, Orange and 3 to have those networks connected.
The price tariffs are set by each mobile service provider and are subject to each customer"s individual price plan, according to the airline
Ryanair CEO Michael O"Leary said: "Today"s launch by Ryanair and OnAir is the first step to offering in-flight mobile phone services onboard our entire fleet of over 170 aircraft over the next 18 months.
"This service will allow passengers to keep in touch with the office, family or friends.
"We expect customer demand for this service to grow rapidly and hope that customers of all UK mobile operators will soon be able to call or text home from 30,000 feet."
OnAir CEO Benoit Debains described the arrangement as "a real milestone in aviation".
He said: "We are proud to work with Ryanair, the world"s largest international scheduled airline, and to provide their 67 million passengers with access to this new technology which will enable them to send and receive emails, text messages, download attachments and make and receive calls just as they would on the ground."
*See linked Ryanair Liverpool story.
by Phil Davies
Thursday, February 19, 2009