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Continental To Offer Live TV, Email On Domestic Flights

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Continental Airlines said on Tuesday it will offer live television and email service on domestic US flights, starting in 2009.

With the economy slowing, US carriers have stepped up efforts to offer better in-flight services in order to attract higher-paying passengers and boost revenue.

Southwest Airlines last week said it plans to start testing satellite-based Internet service this summer.

Continental is partnering with LiveTV, a unit of JetBlue Airways, and will offer 36 channels of DIRECTV satellite-based television as well as WiFi service that allows passengers to access email and instant messaging.

LiveTV will begin installing the equipment on 225 Continental planes, which represent the majority of the carrier's domestic fleet in January 2009. The installation process will take about 18 months, Continental spokeswoman Julie King said.

The service will cost Continental next to nothing to start, but it will also get little in return.

"We're providing most of the capital and we're retaining most of the revenue," Nate Quigley, chief executive of LiveTV said.

The television service will be complimentary in the first-class cabin, and cost USD$6 for economy class passengers.

(Reuters)