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Singapore Airlines Starts In-Flight E-Mail, Internet

April 22, 2001

SINGAPORE (AP) — Singapore Airlines Sunday launched a new service that lets passengers send and receive e-mail and surf the Internet from their seats.

The satellite-based service is the "world's first global airborne e-mail system" to go into use, said Michael Tan, executive vice president of the airline's commercial division.

The system is produced by Seattle-based Tenzing Communications, Inc., a company that provides Internet services for travelers

Passengers will be able to plug their laptop computers into portals at their seats and surf selected Web sites or send and receive e-mail, Tan said.

Singapore Airlines launched the service Sunday on its flight from Singapore to Los Angeles. The national flag-carrier plans to install it on 80 planes covering about 95% of its flights over the next two years, Tan said.

The service will be free of charge until September, Tan said, adding that Singapore Airlines and Tenzing were still working out details of the charges.

Singapore Airlines' e-mail and Internet service is part of a 300 million-Singapore dollar ($1=SGD1.18134) upgrade to its in-flight entertainment system, Tan said.

Britain's Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. announced in March that it will offer e-mail and Internet services - also in partnership with Tenzing - in all three classes.

But the service was still "several months away" from implementation on Virgin flights, said Alan Pellegrini, Tenzing's president and chief operating officer.

Air Canada (ACNAF) is testing a Tenzing system that would be "limited to North America," Pellegrini said.

Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific (H.CPA) plans to deploy a Tenzing e-mail and Internet system later this year, Tenzing said in a statement.

In addition to providing entertainment, in-flight e-mail and Internet access, the systems were designed to help business travelers "stay productive while in the air," Pellegrini said at the Singapore Airlines news conference in Singapore Sunday.

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