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In-flight texts to take off in the U.S.?

JetBlue founder considers text service, but like other airline execs, doesn't like onboard use of cell phones for calls.

U.S. budget airline JetBlue is considering an in-flight text messaging service but does not want noisy mobile phone calls on its aircraft.

David Neeleman, founder and chief executive of JetBlue, said text communications could prove attractive but agrees with the misgivings of many U.S. airline executives about the onboard use of cell phones for voice calls.

A representative for JetBlue told Silicon.com that in-flight text messaging could happen in the near future and that if the company allows cell phones on its flights, then they will only be used as "silent options"--meaning passengers would be allowed to send and receive text messages and listen to voice mail, but incoming and outgoing calls would be barred.

The movement to make mile-high mobiles a reality is gathering pace at other airlines, too--the U.K.'s Ryanair is planning to allow mobile access on all its flights by mid-2007, and Australian national carrier Qantas has been given the green light to start an in-flight mobile trial of SMS (Short Message Service) and e-mail.

Air France was due to launch an in-flight mobile service last month but was forced to delay it until the summer. It will now kick off a six-month mobile trial--including data services and voice calls--in July.

Gemma Simpson of Silicon.com reported from London.