Virgin sets sights on in-flight internet access

VIRGIN Australia, fresh from launching wireless entertainment streaming in its aircraft, is now investigating mile-high internet access for passengers.

Earlier this week, the airline launched a wireless system which allowed travellers to "stream" videos and films to their own devices.

And, on Tuesday, Virgin confirmed it was now considering how to deliver internet access to passengers .

They would not be the first.

Qantas offered a trial for in-flight wi-fi for much of last year before cancelling the initiative through lack of interest.

It was charging between $12 and $39 for use on flights to Britain and the United States.

With airlines in the United States and Europe already offering internet access during flights, Australia's domestic carriers face a unique challenge because much of the country beyond the coastline has little on-ground infrastructure.

Those hoping for a wi-fi arms race to break out between Australia's airlines are likely to be sorely disappointed.

Tiger Air is currently focused on its menu options, something it described as a "higher priority".

Jetstar is more reluctant. After first offering in-flight iPads for entertainment, an airline spokesman told APN the cost of wi-fi would be passed on to customers and so far, there was no demand for it.

"We're a leisure airline and many of our customers say they enjoy switching off and relaxing when they fly with us," he said.

A spokesman for Civil Aviation Safety Authority said the safety regulator had no issue with wi-fi as long as it caused "no hazard or interference" to the aircraft.

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