Mmm... we like where this is headed. While legacy airlines in America are struggling to outfit their fleets with in-flight WiFi alone, Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways is showing 'em how it's done. The airline has just inked a memorandum of understanding with Panasonic Avionics for the "provision of full broadband connectivity on all Cathay Pacific and Dragonair passenger aircraft." Yeah, you read that correctly -- by early 2012, Cathay will make 50Mbps internet service, in-flight GSM cellphone service (voice, SMS and data) as well as live and pay-per-view television available to every last passenger. The finer details are still being hammered out, and we aren't told whether every single bird in its fleet will be online from Day 1, but we're still as giddy as ever for this to become a reality. Here's hoping this pushes those other airlines into getting with the program, and at the very least, it ought to give you plenty of reason to take that Asian vacation you've been putting off.
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Cathay Pacific and Panasonic Avionics Corporation Plan to Keep Passengers Connected As They Fly

LAKE FOREST, Calif., July 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Cathay Pacific Airways and Panasonic Avionics Corporation today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the provision of full broadband connectivity on all Cathay Pacific and Dragonair passenger aircraft.

While final terms are still being negotiated, the MOU allows the parties to immediately begin developing the plan to provide connectivity for passengers together with promotional, sponsorship and e-commerce opportunities for Cathay Pacific partner brands.

Cathay Pacific is the first airline in Asia to announce its intention to deploy Panasonic Avionics' Global Communications Suite broadband connectivity solution. It is also the first airline globally to announce an intention to provide the solution across its full fleet. Services will launch from early 2012, subject to regulatory approval.

The Panasonic Avionics connectivity solution for Cathay Pacific will comprise the eXConnect broadband service, eXPhone GSM phone service, and a CX-branded free-of-charge entertainment portal - accessible through all passenger devices and seatback screens - that will include a range of content updated during the flight, access to airline and partner sites, e-commerce, airline-specific advertising, and live television with a unique pay-per-view capability for special events.

* eXConnect provides two-way broadband connectivity supporting a wide range of passenger and crew applications, including Internet access, voice, data, and the ability to monitor and transmit airline operational data in real time at speeds of up to 50 Mbps to the aircraft.
* eXPhone, offered in collaboration with AeroMobile's GSM mobile phone technology, allows passengers to use their mobile phones, smart phones and BlackBerry® devices onboard to make voice calls, send SMS text messages or utilise data services and stream content wirelessly to their iPod®, iPhone® and iPad®. eXPhone gives the airline flexibility and full control over the services offered including restricting certain services when appropriate.


Alex McGowan, Head of Product for Cathay Pacific, said: "Connectivity will form an important part of our overall customer proposition. Having that connectivity integrated closely with our video on demand entertainment system is especially valuable as it means that all passengers will be able to use the service. We believe that being connected is now an expected part of everyday life – not just for business purposes but also to stay in touch with family and friends. This system will allow passengers to be as 'in touch' as they wish to be while enjoying the great Cathay Pacific and Dragonair service."

Charles Ogilvie, Executive Director of China for Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said: "We are very proud and thrilled to be working with Cathay Pacific. We are committed to serving the needs of the ever-growing markets in China and Asia. With Panasonic Avionics' Global Communications Services, Cathay Pacific will be the first airline in Asia to offer passengers the most innovative inflight entertainment and communication options onboard commercial aircraft."

Cathay Pacific Airways and Panasonic Avionics Corporation have enjoyed a close relationship since 1994.

About Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd

Cathay Pacific Airways is a Hong Kong-based airline offering scheduled passenger and cargo services to some 120 destinations in Asia, North America, Australia, Europe and Africa, using a fleet of 103 wide-body passenger aircraft and 25 freighters. The company is a member of the Swire group and is a public company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Dragonair is a wholly owned subsidiary and Cathay Pacific also has a 60% stake in AHK Air Hong Kong Ltd, an all-cargo carrier operating regional express freight services. Cathay Pacific has made substantial investments to develop Hong Kong as one of the world's leading global transportation hubs. The airline is a founding member of the oneworld global alliance.

About Panasonic Avionics Corporation

Panasonic Avionics Corporation is the world's leading supplier of inflight entertainment and communication systems. The company's best-in-class solutions, supported by professional maintenance services, fully integrate with the cabin enabling airlines to deliver the ultimate travel experiences with a rich variety of entertainment choices, resulting in improved quality communication systems and solutions, and lower overall costs.

Established in 1979, Panasonic Avionics Corporation, a US corporation, is a subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation of North America, the principal North American subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation (NYSE: PC). Headquartered in Lake Forest, California with over 2,600 employees and operations in 50 locations worldwide, it serves over 200 customers worldwide and provides IFEC systems on over 3,700 aircraft. For additional information, please visit www.panasonic.aero.

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Cathay Pacific bringing 50Mbps WiFi, live TV and in-flight calling to fleet