Indians may finally be able to check their emails and send WhatsApp messages from the skies, after the central government gives its permission to allow airlines to offer in-flight Internet in a few months.
According to the Times of India, the government is likely to give its nod to in-flight Internet by August-end. The report says that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation is awaiting clearance from the Department of Telecommunications. "Currently they (international airlines) have to switch off WiFi in the Indian airspace (where in-flight Internet is banned on security grounds)," Lalit Gupta, joint DG, Directorate General of Civil Aviation said.
No flights flying over the Indian airspace are allowed to have WiFi services and phone calls due to security concerns. According to a Hindustan Times report, this decision was taken after the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane going from Delhi to Kathmandu in 1999. However, last August, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said that it was willing to allow WiFi services on flights.
In March, Air India had announced that it was planning to introduce free Wi-Fi on its aircrafts by July, which would allow passengers to check WhatsApp messages and emails. Indian carriers such as Jet Airways and SpiceJet are also likely to introduce the service, and are planning to take deliveries of the WiFi-enabled Boeing 737 MAX aircrafts by the middle of next year.
Around 70 international airlines, including Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Etihad offer in-flight Internet.