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Flying? The safest form of transport!!

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Ryanair... It's good to talk.
19 February 2009 @ 22:15

 Michael O’Leary says passengers don’t find much peace on Ryanair flights as crews sell scratchcards, sandwiches and cigarettes and his planes are about to get louder as the carrier introduces a mobile-phone service. Passengers can call, e-mail and send text messages from 20 planes, expanding to 50 aircraft in the next six months and the Dublin-based carrier’s entire fleet if the service is popular.

O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive officer who charges passengers to check in hold baggage or be first to board, predicts “enormous demand” for in-flight calls. “Nobody is flying on Ryanair because it is a bastion of solitude where you can contemplate life,” said O’Leary, who arrived at a press conference in Dublin wearing a mobile-phone outfit covered with a “Now Use Your Mobile on Board” sign. Ryanair wants the OnAir NV service to boost so-called ancillary revenue, the money the airline makes aside from ticket sales. That accounted for more than a fifth of revenue in the quarter ended Dec. 31, rising 19 percent to 132 million euros ($167 million).

Passengers will make and receive voice calls at non-European Union international roaming rates of 2 euros to 3 euros a minute. Text messages will cost about 50 cents and e-mails using phones and other devices will cost as much as 2 euros per message. “It is expensive but it’s your choice whether you want to use it or not,” the CEO said.

O’Leary said Ryanair is the first all-economy carrier to let travelers make calls. Air France-KLM Group tested a phone service on one plane last April in Europe’s first trial of airborne mobile-phone voice service. New York-based JetBlue Airways Corp. agreed to buy Verizon Communications Inc.’s Airfone business in June to expand its e-mail and messaging services aboard planes, but U.S. regulations don’t permit voice calls. In-flight calls are connected via a miniature cellular network inside the aircraft. A modem transmits data and calls to a satellite that routes them to a ground station and then onward to the passenger’s network, which can cause some delays.

O’Leary, who says airports estimate about 60 percent to 70 percent of Ryanair’s customers may be traveling for leisure, doesn’t expect the service to put other travelers off. “We’ve no interest in quiet zones,” the CEO told journalists “It will make a break from the in-flight announcements on a Ryanair aircraft.”

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