Virgin Atlantic to Keep Passengers Connected in Flight on A330 Planes With Cutting Edge Panasonic Avionics Corporation Technology Onboard - The airline announces a long-term partnership potentially worth more than $70m with Panasonic for full connectivity through its eX2 in-flight entertainment and eXPhone products.

- Passengers will be able to email, SMS, make phone calls, play content from their iPod®, iPhone® and mobiles as well as sharing holiday snaps at 35,000 ft.

LAS VEGAS, June 16 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Virgin Atlantic Airways and Panasonic Avionics Corporation have forged a long-term partnership which will see the airline install the award-winning eX2 in-flight entertainment system and eXPhone communications product onboard its A330 fleet of aircraft as well as a strategy for full connectivity onboard future aircraft. Virgin Atlantic will be the first UK long-haul airline to roll-out this service across its leisure fleet.  

The eXPhone deal with Panasonics Avionics Corporation and their in-flight GSM smart phone partner AeroMobile, will enable passengers to make phone calls and send and receive texts and emails using their own mobile devices onboard.  

Key features of the new eX2 in-flight entertainment system allow passengers to rate the films and read comment and critique from leading film critics. Passengers can also view interviews with the cast and directors and are able to easily search for their films of choice and create a play list for the flight using the 'save for later' functions.

Steve Ridgway, Chief Executive of Virgin Atlantic, commented; "Virgin Atlantic has a well-deserved reputation for leading the way in in-flight entertainment and technology – we were the first airline to offer individual seat-back TVs for all passengers almost twenty years ago - and I have no doubt this system will again set new standards that our competitors will seek to follow.

"The system is simple and intuitive for passengers to use with around 300 hours of entertainment at their fingertips – quite literally using the latest touchscreen technology.  We are confident that even our more technophobic passengers will find it easy to use. It is packed with blockbuster movies and award-winning TV shows along with a wide choice of music for all tastes and games so the time onboard will literally fly by."

Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer for Panasonic Avionics, commented; "We are grateful to Virgin Atlantic for their ongoing loyalty and belief in us as a strategic technical partner. This alliance gives us the confidence to push the envelope, continue to innovate and deliver solutions that exceed Virgin's expectations."

In Premium Economy and Upper Class, passengers will be able to plug in a variety of their mobile devices to play their music, videos, pictures and documents on the seat-back screen. Passengers in all classes will be able to plug a USB in to view their own content. Live news updates, destination videos and an interactive map are also available amongst many other features.  

The $2.1bn order for 10 A330s, which are due to be delivered from February 2011 and which can seat up to 313 passengers, will operate on many of Virgin Atlantic's existing business and leisure routes worldwide as well as assisting future growth.  The new twin-engine A330-300s will ensure that Virgin Atlantic maintains its reputation for flying one of the most modern and environmentally-friendly fleets in the world. It is nearly 10% more fuel efficient than the A340-300 aircraft.

About Virgin Atlantic

Since it was founded in 1984, Virgin Atlantic Airways has become one of the world's leading airlines serving the world's major cities. Now based at both London's Gatwick and Heathrow airports, it operates long haul services to thirty destinations world-wide as far apart as Las Vegas and Shanghai.

Virgin Atlantic has enjoyed huge popularity, winning top business, consumer and trade awards from around the world. The airline has pioneered a range of innovations setting new standards of service, which its competitors have subsequently sought to follow. Despite Virgin Atlantic's growth the service still remains customer driven with an emphasis on value for money, quality, fun and innovation.

About Panasonic Avionics Corporation

Panasonic Avionics Corporation is the world's leading supplier of in-flight 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 U.S. 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.

SOURCE Panasonic Avionics Corporation; Virgin Atlantic Airways



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