Etihad Airways will become one of a growing number of airlines to give UK passengers the option of making calls from their mobile phones mid-flight within the next few months.
The Abu Dhabi-based carrier is now allowing passengers on flights between New York and its home base to phone, text and browse the internet and it is aiming to offer the service on all flights by the middle of 2014.
Using Panasonic Avionics' eXPhone service and AeroMobile, an inflight mobile phone operator, the airline launched the facility on its Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft on June 1.
So far, 13 Etihad aircraft have been equipped with inflight connectivity and the airline plans to cover its entire fleet within the next 12 months.
However, passengers can only use the mobiles on Etihad flights if their phone operator has a roaming agreement with AeroMobile.
The airline said the company has agreements with 220 mobile phone operators, including 02, Three and Vodafone in the UK.
Passengers are billed by their mobile phone operator, and prices vary depending on individual contracts. Prices are typically similar to 'rest of world' rates, or in some cases, lower, said Etihad.
"We're delighted to be working with Etihad Airways to roll out inflight mobile connectivity across their whole fleet," said Kevin Rogers, CEO of AeroMobile.
"AeroMobile equipped aircraft already fly to more than 330 destinations in 90 countries across the world, and we expect the number of aircraft offering our service to double over the next 12 months as more and more airlines are seeing the benefit of offering inflight mobile connectivity to their passengers."
Emirates was the first airline to allow mobile phone use on flights from the UK, back in 2008.
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