German airlines nix onboard mobiles despite EU approval

German airlines remain cool to in-flight mobile services despite EU approval on Monday of technology allowing air passengers to use their phones throughout Europe.

German airlines nix onboard mobiles despite EU approval
I know I left my iPhone here somewhere... Photo: DPA

After the European Commission’s announcement in Brussels, a spokesperson for German airline Lufthansa said the company is hesitant to institute the service. A poll revealed that passengers would be disturbed by telephone calls during flights and the company does not have concrete plans to introduce mobile capability.

A spokeswoman for the country’s second largest airline, Air Berlin, said they won’t allow phone calls on flights either. Most people, especially business travelers, would find it annoying, she said, adding that the technology will likely be used to provide internet connection instead.

EU Telecommunications Commissioner Viviane Reding warned mobile service providers against raising prices for in-flight calls. “We expect carriers to have transparent and innovative pricing,” she said.

Reding also warned airlines to ensure passengers will not be disturbed by flight phone calls, saying the European Commission expected airlines to offer solutions within the year. Several airlines, including Air France, have already been testing in-flight mobile calling.

Calls will still be prohibited during take off and landing and allowed only once the plane reached 3,000 metres in altitude.

The standardized technology can be used within all 27 European Union nations and airlines will only need a single licence to offer mobile service. There will be an onboard station that connects users to a ground station via satellite. This system will keep transmitter power within a small range that won’t inhibit the plane’s navigation and communication systems.