In-flight Internet to launch over the Pacific

Japan Airlines will start offering broadband Internet access to passengers on its transpacific route from May 10, it said.

Japan Airlines (JAL) will Tuesday start offering The Boeing's in-flight Internet service on flights between Tokyo and New York, the first time the service will be available for transpacific travel, the airline said on Monday.

The Connexion by Boeing service will be initially available on alternate days on flights JL005/JL006, with the service becoming available daily by the end of June, according to Geoffrey Tudor, a spokesman for the airline.

Connexion by Boeing is a satellite-delivered data service that enables airline passengers to access the Internet via wireless LAN-compatible PCs.

The connection speed is typically about 5M bps (megabits per second) downstream from the Internet to the aircraft, and 1M bps upstream from the aircraft to the Internet. The service supports e-mail, Web browsing, and corporate network access via a VPN (virtual private network), among other features, according to JAL.

Access will be available throughout the aircraft and will cost US$29.95 throughout the flight, or for US$9.95 for the first 30 minutes and US$0.25 for each additional minute, JAL said. A US$10 discount will be available until July 15, 2005, the airline said.

JAL was the first Asian airline to reach an agreement to introduce the Connexion by Boeing service, introducing it on its Tokyo-London route in December 2004. Two Boeing 747-400 aircraft are equipped to provide the service on the Tokyo-London route, JAL's Tudor said.

"We will gradually be expanding the service to more of our major business routes, but we haven't got a fixed timetable yet," he said.

Connexion by Boeing entered commercial service in May 2004 with Lufthansa, which began offering it on flights between Europe and the U.S. Other airlines using the service include Scandinavian Airline System.

The service is increasingly available from Asian airlines. All Nippon Airways began offering the service on flights between Tokyo and Shanghai in November. The airline plans to extend the service to its Tokyo-Los Angeles and Tokyo-New York routes, according to Boeing. Singapore Airlines will start services on some routes during the middle of this year.

Boeing has also signed deals with Taiwan's China Airlines, South Korea's Asiana Airlines and Korean Air. Korean Air will be offering the service on selected flights between Seoul and the U.S. in May, according to Boeing.

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Paul Kallender

IDG News Service
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