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Airline moves toward offering Internet access

(China Daily)

08:34, November 11, 2011

BEIJING - With Air China's announcement that it will begin offering a wireless network on flights this month, domestic airline passengers have moved a step closer to being able to surf the Internet.

The first plane to have one of the networks will be a Boeing 737-800 plane and will fly from Beijing to Chengdu on Tuesday, said Fan Heyun, a senior manager with Air China's marketing department.

For a while at least, passengers will not be able to use the system to access the Internet. It will instead allow them to play games, watch entertainment programs and shop online using laptop computers or other devices.

"This is the first step," said Zhou Enyong, Air China spokesman. "Our final goal is to provide Internet access on board."

If everything goes as planned, a wireless network will be established later this month on a second plane, an Airbus 321 jet flying between Beijing and Shanghai, Fan said.

"Gradually, the network will be available on Air China's major domestic flights," he said. "The network service will first be available on single-aisle planes and then on wider jets."

To ensure the success of the first commercial flights that have the network, the plane will go through an hour-long trial flight on Friday, Fan added. No passengers will be on board during that exercise, which will test the plane's network server and other equipment.

Air China has not mentioned a plan to charge for the service.

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