OnAir leaves business aviation to rival group

 - January 31, 2007, 5:41 AM

OnAir, the inflight voice and data communications joint venture among Airbus, SITA and Tenzing, will not pursue business aircraft installations for the time being. The company has said that it will focus exclusively on the airline sector.

By contrast, its Mobile Connectivity rival (an alliance among Arinc, Inmarsat and Telenor) is targeting both airline and business aviation applications. Both groups are offering high-speed data/Internet links and inflight use of personal cellphones.

OnAir CEO George Cooper told a February 15 press conference in London that his 50-person company cannot afford to devote resources to certifying its equipment on business aircraft–except the Airbus Corporate Jetliner (ACJ). The company’s business plan is centered on the volume sales that it expects from airlines, rather than the potentially higher-yield corporate aircraft installations.

Geneva-based OnAir has said that its inflight cellphone service for the GSM band in Europe will be available from the third quarter of next year. The first certification likely will be for an aircraft in the Airbus A320 line (which includes the ACJ).

Mobile Connectivity has said that it will have its inflight cellphone package certified by the end of this year. But OnAir executives told AIN they regard the projection as very optimistic since telecommunications and aviation regulators have yet to agree to the terms under which the approval process will be conducted.