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    Aeroflot launches in-flight mobile services

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    One of Russia's largest mobile operators, Megafon, will provide mobile services on Aeroflot airline's flights starting Friday, the companies said.

    One of Russia's largest mobile operators, Megafon, will provide mobile services on Aeroflot airline's flights starting Friday, the companies said.

    Aeroflot will begin operating Russia's first flights with mobile equipment on board the medium-range Airbus À321. The plane will operate both domestic and international flights.

    Mobile services such as GPRS Internet access, SMS and MMS will be provided to Aeroflot's passengers free until January 31.

    Aeroflot has pledged to equip more planes with mobile services next year, including an Airbus À330 covering transcontinental flights.

    In line with Russian laws, mobile equipment on board the planes will only begin operating at an altitude of more than 3 kilometers.

    Megafon earlier said it had spent 150 million rubles ($4.9 million) on the project, and Aeroflot was planning to spend more than $1 million. The project is expected to pay off in at least five years.

    According to Megafon's estimates, 20 percent of Aeroflot's passengers will use onboard mobile services by 2014.

    Aeroflot, part of the international SkyTeam aviation alliance, has 115 planes and operates flights to 856 cities in 169 countries. The company's passenger turnover stood at 8.755 million last year.

    The number of Megafon clients exceeds 51.6 million, or around one third of Russia's population.

    MOSCOW, December 23 (RIA Novosti) 

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