Passengers on selected Ryanair flights can now make phone calls and send texts or emails from mobile phones and PDAs.
The low-cost carrier has fitted the facility (provided by in-flight communications provider OnAir) to 20 of its aircraft, mainly based at Dublin. The airline says this is the first step in an 18-month programme to fit the technology to the carrier's entire fleet of 170 planes.
Passengers can now make and receive calls at a non-EU international roaming rates, and send and receive text messages and emails using mobiles, Blackberrys and other smartphones. OnAir says the price tariffs are set by individual mobile service providers, but suggests a charge of between £1.50 and £3 per minute for making phone calls - receiving text messages will be free of charge.
Initially only O2 customers in the UK will be able to use the service (as well as over 50 mobile operators across Europe), but OnAir says it is working with other operators including Vodafone, Orange and 3 to expand the service.
Ryanair joins the list of carriers launching in-flight mobile phone facilities. Emirates launched its service in March last year and BA recently announced that it will offer mobile data services on its forthcoming all-business class flights from London City to New York.