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Emirates “to debut mobile calls”

Dubai-based Emirates will become the first airline to allow passengers to make mobile phone calls on its flights.

It has signed a deal with Aeromobile to provide the technology that allows mobiles to be safely used on board. Emirates expects to launch the service on one of its Boeing 777 planes as early as January next year. The news comes just months after Ryanair announced it planned to launch a similar service in mid-2007 - subject to regulatory approval. "We believe that the ability to communicate efficiently, easily and safely when on board flights will become an essential feature of business and leisure travel," said Aeromobile president David Poltorak . "We are currently talking to a number of other airlines about extending the service to their fleets." The Sussex-based company believes the in-flight mobile calls market could deliver revenues of as much as £1.5 billion (€2.24 billion) by 2010. Customers hoping to use the service on board Emirates will be charged at rates "comparable to international tariffs", the airline said. In an effort to head off any complaints from fellow passengers about the use of mobiles, their airline will encourage people to use silent or vibrate modes on the phone. Cabin crew will also be able to control the system at any time, and select operating modes appropriate for certain flights - such as selecting text only operation mode for overnight flights. (BBC NEWS)