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12/26/2006
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Last-Ditch Effort Under Way To Keep In-Flight Boeing Connexion Service Flying

The service began to be phased out last summer when Boeing said it wouldn't continue to finance it. The service has been free since October, but its status after Sunday, Dec. 31, is uncertain.

With in-flight Internet access on several international flights scheduled to go dark at the start of the new year, several business entities are attempting to keep the service launched by Boeing in operation until a rescue plan can be put in place.

Called Connexion, the service began to be phased out last summer when Boeing said it wouldn't continue to finance it. The service has been free since October, but its status after Sunday, Dec. 31, is uncertain.

Several airlines,including Lufthansa, Korean Air, and Singapore Airlines, have been involved in talks to save Connexion. Lufthansa heads up a group including Panasonic Avionics, while Connexion subcontractor ViaSat and satellite operator SES Global SA have also expressed interest in helping to save the service.

Boeing said any personal information that users provided to Connexion will be protected and not shared with third parties. "The personal data will be stored for a time to ensure customer support can be provided and transaction history requirements met," stated a message on the Connexion Web site Tuesday. "After that time, both online data and backups will be destroyed according to industry best practices for disposal of sensitive information."

Former Connexion VP David Friedman was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as saying costs of managing the service could be manageable if some of the thinly traveled routes in Asia, Africa, and some Pacific regions were cut.

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