Air NZ to allow calls, texts on new plane

Air New Zealand's new 'All Black' A320 aircraft Herald Photo / Natalie Slade
Air New Zealand's new 'All Black' A320 aircraft Herald Photo / Natalie Slade

Air New Zealand has announced passengers will be able to use mobile phones on its new black A320 within a month - at a price.

Inflight roaming costs of 80c per outbound text, $3.50 per minute to make a call, $2.00 per minute to receive a call and $20 per megabyte of data, apply.

The move is being touted as a New Zealand first and is being launched in partnership with Vodafone and New Zealand On Air.

"The Airbus A320 aircraft, which commences its first commercial flights today, will be fitted with new inflight mobile technology which will enable the safe use of mobile phones to make and receive phone calls, text messages and emails, during the cruise stage of flights," a statement from the company said.

The deal applies only to people travelling on the black A320 on domestic routes.

Customers who are with other mobile providers should contact their provider for rates, Air New Zealand said.

The system has been designed so that passengers' mobile phone signals are routed through an aircraft cell site, the company said.

Air New Zealand's general manager of airline operations, Captain David Morgan said the new technology underlined the airline's commitment to provide its customers with innovative solutions.

"Feedback from our customers shows they value being able to stay in touch with work colleagues, friends and family while they are in the air," Captain Morgan said.

"This new inflight technology, which uses an aircraft-based cell site and Inmarsat satellites, will mean our customers onboard the new black A320 aircraft will be able to safely use their mobile to stay in touch by text, phone call and email."

Vodafone's chief marketing officer, Greg Campbell said the new in-flight network was be another step in its commitment to help Vodafone customers be 'more connected wherever they are'.

"As a frequent flyer myself, I'm looking forward to using my Vodafone mobile in-flight. I can see myself making regular calls to make sure my kids leave for the airport on time and pick me up," Greg said..

- Susie Nordqvist

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