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August 21, 2006

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Carl Haigney

Nigel,

Interesting difference of opinion from Ryanair, as expressed in today's Guardian....

Ryanair to let passengers use their mobile phones in flight - at a price

· Airline rejects Ofcom's concern at nuisance factor
· Low-cost carrier increases fees for checked baggage

Dan Milmo, transport correspondent
Thursday August 31, 2006
The Guardian


One of the last havens from loud mobile phone conversations, the aeroplane, is under threat after Ryanair said passengers will be able to use them on its flights from next year.
The airline plans to offer the service on all flights from its Stansted airport base from July before rolling it out across its fleet. It brushed off warnings from Ofcom, the communications industries regulator, that allowing calls on flights might lead to "increased agitation" among passengers.


Article continues

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"The focus of the Ofcom report was long-haul flights, with interrupting people at 3am," said Michael O'Leary, Ryanair chief executive. "Onboard Ryanair flights we don't allow anybody to sleep because we are too busy selling them products."
Mr O'Leary added that he expected people to use the service for sending texts or emails rather than lengthy conversations, although the airline will make more money from voice calls because it will get a cut of the charge levied on the passenger. The service, charged at international call rates, is subject to regulatory approval.

Ryanair said passengers would still be banned from using their phones during take-off and landing because they could interfere with the plane's electronics, but they would be able to use handsets once the aircraft reached 10,000 feet. The service will use satellites to relay phone signals to networks on the ground.

Aviation security experts said the service would not be a security threat provided phones were screened properly at airport checkpoints.

Norman Shanks, a security consultant, said the threat of terrorists using phones to coordinate attacks already existed because some airlines already offer in-flight phone services.

Mobile phones were temporarily banned from aircraft cabins earlier this month after the foiling of an alleged plot to bomb airliners.

From tomorrow, passengers on Ryanair and its closest rival, easyJet, will have to cram more into their hand luggage as the low-cost airlines introduce new charges for checked-in bags. The increased fees follow emergency security measures that limit passengers to one carry-on bag the size of a small laptop computer bag. Ryanair, which already charges for hold baggage, said it was going ahead with price hikes despite government restrictions still in place that have forced passengers to check in more baggage.

"It is an inexorable fact that the charges for hold baggage will increase over the next couple of years. We are on a campaign for people to travel with less checked-in luggage, regardless of what you can and cannot take on board," said Mr O'Leary.

From Friday, Ryanair passengers who check in luggage online will pay £3.50 per bag, up from £2.50. Checking in at the airport will cost £7 each, up from £5. EasyJet said it will charge up to £10 if more than one bag is checked in because the security restrictions are slowing down baggage handling and plane departures.

EasyJet accused its arch rival of "blatant profiteering" by encouraging passengers to travel with no checked-in luggage. Under current restrictions, a holidaymaker taking no checked-in luggage on to a Ryanair flight would need to cram all their beachwear and books into a lap-top-sized bag, said an easyJet spokesman.

Both airlines are trying to limit checked-in luggage because it speeds up the turnaround between a plane landing and taking off and saves on fuel by making planes lighter.

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