American Airlines to expand in-flight Web access

Written by Associated Press | Dallas | Updated: Mar 31 2009, 18:11pm hrs
American Airlines plans to expand Internet access to about half its fleet of aircraft over the next two years as it attempts to raise revenue and improve customer service.

The company said it will install flying Wi-Fi hot spots on about 300 planes used in the continental US and charge up to USD 12.95 for browsing the Web, sending e-mail or connecting with corporate VPN sites.

American has been testing in-flight Internet service for several months on 15 planes. The airline declined to give figures on usage during the test, but an American technology executive called the response positive.

"American Airlines is a very financially driven airline," said the executive, Doug Backelin. "We are especially careful in how we're spending, but this is a good strategic investment, something our customers will value."

AMR Corp's American is one of several US carriers getting into Internet service. Delta Air Lines Inc., the world's largest airline operator, plans a quicker rollout, from about 80 planes currently to more than 300 late this year and more than 500 by the end of 2010.

Both airlines will use the Gogo service from Aircell.

American will add access to many of its McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series aircraft beginning this year and on new Boeing 737-800 jets as it receives them.

Aircell sets the prices and shares revenue with the airline, although neither company would discuss their financial arrangement.