Qantas to finally offer inflight broadband

Qantas has used its website to announce that it will finally offer inflight internet when it starts flying its new fleet of Airbus A380 superjumbos.

A Flash animation linked from the ‘business traveller’ page of shows the services that will be available on the A380.

The page says that from mid-2007 Qantas will start operating 12 of the next-generation aircraft and will offer “access to the internet e-mail SMS and telephone so you can stay in touch. You can also find out about your destination before you arrive
and catch the latest news sport and weather.”

The site also says travellers will “also be able to create individual play lists from a huge music library and shop online”.

There has been speculation for some time that Apple’s iTunes Music Store could easily sell music via inflight services though there’s no suggestion on Qantas’ site that it is aiming to sell music in the air.

Availability of internet on Qantas flights is of particular importance to IT industry travellers who often have to make the trip between Sydney and one of the world’s key technology hubs San Francisco.

Currently the Australian government only allows Qantas and United Airlines to offer direct flights neither of which currently offer in-flight internet.

However despite Qantas’ ‘mid-2007’ statement it’s no longer certain when the airline will get the new planes in the sky. Airbus has twice delayed delivery of the aircraft by six months each time the most recent delay announced only last month with industry analysts speculating that the planes may not arrive until the end of 2007 or early 2008.

Qantas says it is considering pursuing Airbus for compensation and will need to keep some of its ageing aircraft fleet flying for longer.

Qantas was banking on flying the Airbus A380 as soon as possible as an update to its fleet before its massive consignment of the new Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” aircraft started arriving in 2008. Qantas has placed firm orders for 45 and reserved up to 115 of the 787s.