Taiwan's largest carrier, China Airlines (華航), will offer high-speed Internet connections to passengers on its North American flights starting next June, company officials said yesterday.
China Airlines yesterday signed an agreement with Connexion by Boeing, a mobile information services provider under Boeing Co, which will provide wireless Internet access service to the carrier by installing antennae on aircraft to receive signals from satellite and ground operation centers.
The service will be first available on China Airlines' Boeing 747-400 planes that fly to and from New York, Los Angeles, Vancouver and other North American destinations. The service will also be extended to other routes in the future.
"The [wireless Internet] service is expected to bring convenience to business fliers," China Airlines Chairman Chiang Yao-chung (江耀宗), said during the signing ceremony yesterday.
"We can also use this new technology to secure information on weather, airports and aircrafts, and even access maintenance bases or aircraft manufacturers to control flight safety risks."
China Airlines is the first carrier in the nation to introduce the service, and the sixth in the world after Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Scandinavian Airlines System, Japan Airlines and three other airlines.
Passengers can use the in-flight connection with laptop computers or personal digital assistants (PDAs) equipped with wireless LAN cards.
The charge is US$29.95 for a full trip, or US$9.95 for the first half hour, and US$0.25 for each additional minute.
When asked if the system will cause safety concerns, Scott Carson, president of Connexion by Boeing who attended the ceremony, said the company uses VPN (virtual private network) that will not interfere with aircraft operations or pilot controls.
Another focus of the carrier is chairman Chiang's trip to China earlier this month, which was suspected to be associated with "small three links" negotiations. Roger Han (
As for the proposed chartered flights to bring home Taiwanese businesspeople during the Lunar New Year, Han said the issue is subject to cross-strait negotiations.