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ANZ 777-300ERs to feature eXPhone

Air New Zealand’s new Boeing 777-300ERs will feature the Panasonic Avionics/AeroMobile eXPhone service, enabling passengers to send and receive text messages and emails in flight using their iPhones, BlackBerrys and other GSM cellular phones. Boeing is due to deliver the first of four aircraft in November. The eXPhone will be integrated into Panasonic’s eX2 in-flight entertainment and communication (IFEC) system.

“Feedback from our customers has shown they wish to be able to text, check emails, and stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues during their long-haul flights,”says Ed Sims, ANZ’s group general manager international airline.

The airline also plans to offer data services, enabling customers to use their netbooks or laptops in conjunction with their mobile broadband connection to access their emails and internet. As a result of recent customer feedback, however, it does not currently plan to enable voice calls on board. “Passengers will also be requested to keep their phones on ‘silent’ mode,” says Sims.

Air New Zealand says customers will be billed by their own mobile service provider, as with any other international roaming plan. Standard inflight roaming costs apply: with Telecom XT texts cost NZD0.80 each outbound, there is no charge to receive them, and mobile broadband costs NZD40 (USD28) per megabyte of data. Other mobile phone providers, including Vodafone, will be confirming pricing in the coming months, says ANZ.

"We are proud to provide a global solution for the only airline in the world that operates completely around the globe,” comments Panasonic CEO Paul Margis. "Our service is perfectly suited to Air New Zealand and its long-haul passengers, enabling them to stay in touch," adds AeroMobile CEO Bjorn-Taale Sandberg.

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