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Air France says 'oui' to in-flight text messaging

But 'non' to voice calls...

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Air France is to allow passengers to use their mobile phones once airborne on certain flights, though only for text messaging and data applications, the airline announced last week - voice calls will be interdit for the time being.

The service will kick off in March 2007, three months after Air France takes possession of a new Airbus A318 aircraft. No surprises then to hear that the aeroplanes use the OnAir cellular system, which has Airbus's backing.

Air France will operate the on-board cell and the data connection that links it to the ground until September 2007. During the trial period, it will collect passengers' views on the service to decide whether to roll it out more broadly, whether to allow voice calls, and to figure out how much the commercial service will cost.

As yet, it hasn't decided how much trial participants will pay for texts and downloads. However, it said the first route to fly with the new technology on board will run between Europe and North Africa. ®

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