Lufthansa to offer onboard WiFi and phone services between US and Europe

German carrier Lufthansa announced on Monday that it would introduce onboard WiFi and phone services on routes between US and Europe over the next few months. The carrier said the services would be fully implemented by mid-2010.

With the service, the carrier aims to take a lead over rivals by allowing passengers on international flights to make calls and send emails from 40,000 feet and also surf the web and download videos at higher speeds than possible at present. According to the Wall Street Journal, Lufthansa hopes to gain an advantage in the increasingly competitive inflight-communications field by offering high-speed connections optimised for the full range of handheld and Wi-Fi devices.

Lufthansa had earlier attempted to facilitate in-flight WiFi three years ago, but was forced two abandon plans due to a lack of demand. The programme, a satellite-based broadband service Connexion by Boeing was withdrawin in 2006. The new system by Japan's Panasonic Corps, FlyNet will leverage satellite-based technology to offer WiFi services.

According to the New York Times which quoted Michael Lamberti, a spokesman for the carrier, the airline expected the cost of the service to be in the same dimension as in the past. The service cost $10 per hour earlier or $27 for the entire duration of the flight.

According to Wolfgang Mayruber, chief executive of Lufthansa, the service was aimed at business travelers and would provide connectivity equivalent to a 'powerful hot spot or a high-end hotel' on the ground.

The airline has however not disclosed how much it would charge for the service as also the routes on which it would be introduced.