Singapore Airlines says its multi-million-dollar collaboration with inflight connectivity provider OnAir includes a full suite of onboard communication offerings, providing the airline’s customers with...

Customers travelling on Singapore Airlines flights will soon be able to stay connected throughout all phases of their flights with the airline.

Singapore Airlines says its multi-million-dollar collaboration with in-flight connectivity provider OnAir includes a full suite of onboard communication offerings, providing the airline’s customers with access to Wi-Fi Internet and mobile telephony services.

The mobile telephony services will enable customers to send and receive SMS text messages with their GSM-compatible mobile phones, send and receive email messages easily on smartphones and BlackBerry devices, and make and receive voice calls. (Singapore Airlines says it will review whether to allow in-flight voice calls prior to launch of the service.)

The airline plans to roll out the services from the first half of 2011 and says it will be the first major carrier in Asia to launch a full suite of in-flight connectivity services. These will be introduced progressively on flights operated by SIA’s Airbus A380s, Airbus A340-500s and Boeing 777-300ERs.

“Singapore Airlines was in fact one of the pioneers to introduce Internet connectivity on board its Boeing 747-400 aircraft in 2005,” says Yap Kim Wah, Singapore Airlines’ senior vice president product & services. “Today, with the increasing importance of remaining connected, and the more affordable charges made possible by the higher usage and more advanced technology, we are now fitting all our long-range aircraft with the full suite of telephony and Internet features so that our customers can stay connected. Unlike the earlier trial introduction of an Internet service, this suite of features is for full implementation and we are pleased to offer this as an added choice to our in-flight program.”

In late 2007, Singapore Airlines became the first customer to take delivery of the super-jumbo Airbus A380 and it is one of the largest customers for the type, with a total of 19 ordered to date and holding options on six more

Adds Yap Kim Wah: “The environment that our customers have gotten used to on the ground can soon be replicated in the air, when they fly with Singapore Airlines on aircraft fitted with this new connectivity platform. Travelling on business or pleasure, they are just a click or an SMS away, with access to live information, social networking and news updates, as well as inflight shopping.”

Singapore Airlines’ connectivity partner OnAir is jointly owned by Airbus and SITA, the world’s leading provider of global IT and telecommunication solutions for the air transport industry, offering global satellite coverage including for the Asian region. One of the most established companies in the field of onboard connectivity, OnAir has roaming agreements with about 200 telecommunications companies globally, including the three main telecommunication providers in Singapore.

“We are absolutely delighted to have come to an agreement today with an airline of the stature and reputation of Singapore Airlines. The agreement is extremely significant. It sends a strong signal to the industry that inflight passenger communications has come of age – and is a must-have for airlines looking to remain competitive in the future,” says Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir.

Customers who use the mobile telephony services will see their usage reflected in the monthly bills from their telecommunications providers where international GSM roaming rates apply. For Internet access, customers can sign up for an access package upon logging in to the system. Details of the charges will be announced closer to the launch.