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AA prepares for on-board Internet

  • Story Highlights
  • American Airlines to offer Internet access on domestic flights
  • American will test the service on its 767-200 aircraft in 2008
  • Southwest Airlines is also working on offering Internet on-board its planes
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NEW YORK (Reuters) -- AMR Corp's American Airlines is preparing to be one of the first U.S. carriers to offer Internet access on domestic flights.

American Airlines will offer on-board Internet access in 2008.

AirCell, a provider of aviation communications systems, said Wednesday that it will team up with American to test its new system for providing on-board Internet access -- AirCell's first partner on the project.

"We understand that broadband connectivity is important to our business customers," Dan Garton, American Airlines' executive vice president of marketing, said in the statement.

Beginning in 2008, American will test the service on its 767-200 aircraft, which chiefly fly transcontinental routes, AirCell said.

In-flight Internet access has long been sought by airlines in the battle for lucrative business travelers. Southwest Airlines Co., which hopes to attract more business fliers, has said it is working on offering Internet on-board its planes.

Despite the interest from airlines, a viable system has been slow in coming.

Boeing Co. last year began winding down its Connexion unit, which allowed airlines to provide high-speed Internet service to passengers, because it was too costly to attract enough airlines.

AirCell says its system, which is based on cellular technology, is less bulky and much cheaper than Boeing's old satellite-based service.

AirCell Chief Executive Jack Blumenstein told Reuters that the equipment costs about $100,000 per plane and that airlines can offer the service for about $10 per flight.

AirCell has been building the system since last June when it won a U.S. government auction to operate an air-to-ground communication network. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2007 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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