MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos who are always up in the air but wouldn’t want to be disconnected from their online networks would be happy to note that a local low-cost carrier is planning to install Wi-Fi Internet access on its flights soon.
In a statement on Tuesday, Cebu Pacific said it will begin offering the OnAir Wi-Fi service beginning mid-2013, in time for the launch of its planned long-haul flights to the Middle East, Australia, parts of Europe and the U.S.
In January this year, the airline announced it would be leasing at least eight Airbus A330-300 aircrafts, which seats 400 people, for the planned long-haul routes in its bid to expand and capture more of the transport market.
The flights, which typically last around 11 hours, would be a little bit more bearable once the in-flight Wi-Fi service is implemented, company officials said.
The airline also has the option to extend the service to its regional and domestic short-haul flights, although no definite timeframe has been disclosed just yet.
“Once Internet OnAir is in service, Cebu Pacific passengers will be able to access the Internet during flights and make calls using Voice Over IP applications, using their Wi-Fi enabled personal electronic devices,” it said.
Cebu Pacific claims it will be the first low-cost carrier in Southeast Asia to have such an offering. The company, however, did not mention how this would affect air ticket prices.
Cebu Pacific Vice President for Marketing and Distribution Candice Iyog said the new offering is a step forward toward the carrier’s bid to become more social and constantly connected with its customers.
“We are very happy to provide our guests with the convenience of online connectivity while in-flight,” Iyog said. “CEB can now engage passengers through innovative web-based solutions that will further enhance their flying experience with us”
OnAir CEO Ian Dawkins said that as the transport and tourism industry progresses worldwide, “we expect to see more LCCs operating long-haul routes and there is no doubt they will want to provide connectivity.”
At least 47 carriers around the world provide customers with OnAir’s in-flight Wi-Fi service.
OnAir’s use of Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband, combined with the most extensive network of regulatory approvals and roaming agreements, means its services are available around the world.