Qantas says its new Airbus A380s will feature satellite-based Internet access: Apcmag.com reports on Qantas's news that the Airbus jets they will start putting into service in August 2008 will be set for in-flight access from OnAir. OnAir currently has near-term launch plans with a single Air France Airbus jet in a trial, and is retrofitting the entire Boeing fleet of RyanAir. A couple smaller airlines are also committed, with launch dates not set.
Pricing for Qantas's service hasn't been set. If it's designed to work around OnAir's arrangements with Inmarsat, there's no potential for real Internet access, because the cost would be far too high per megabyte. Rather, it's likely that GSM and GPRS services would be available, such as Blackberry email and text messaging. Voice calling wasn't mentioned. Via Wi-Fi, it's possible that limited email retrieval at a fixed rate would be available and instant messaging. Passengers can use seatback screens to access email, as well as their own gear.
Qantas also said they were introducing a new class of service with electronic extras. Premium Economy will be built into A380s and retrofitted on Boeing 747-400s. On both models, that class and all higher classes will have laptop power and Ethernet (RJ45) ports, as well as a video screen. The A380s will gain USB ports for recharging, but Apcmag.com speculates it could also allow iPod content playback.