Dubai-based carrier Emirates will become in January the world's first airline to introduce in-flight mobile phone services after fitting its fleet with safety equipment, an AFP report said.
'Emirates will install a system that allows passengers the choice of safely using their own mobile phones to make and receive phone calls and text messages from Emirates aircraft,' a statement, quoted by the AFP report, said.
It expects to launch the service on board one of its Boeing 777s as early as January 2007, 'once all necessary approvals are granted,' the AFP report said.
European airlines are also planning to start trial use of mobiles on board their planes from early 2007.
Emirates said it was investing $27 million to fit its fleet with equipment supplied by AeroMobile, a major provider of in-flight mobile services, the report said.
Mobile phones will only be used at cruise altitude, like in the case of other electronic devices, while cabin crew will have full control over the system, the report said.
The service will also allow passengers to send and receive text messages, with charges in line with international roaming rates.
The Middle East's fastest growing carrier is spending billions of dollars on expanding its fleet, which currently consists of 92 aircrafts, the report further said.