1. ITV Report

London passengers will be able to use phones on flights

Passengers will also be able to send and receive texts Photo: PA

Passengers on Sir Richard Branson's airline, Virgin Atlantic, will be able to make and receive phone calls while in the air, it was announced today.

The facility, which also includes the sending and receiving of text messages, will be available, initially, on Virgin's new Airbus A330 aircraft flying from London to New York .

It will also feature on the airline's Boeing 747 planes, which are currently going through a £50 million refurbishment. By the end of 2012, nearly 20 aircraft will provide the service.

The A330 is undergoing a £100 million investment by Virgin, including a redesigned upper class (first class) cabin.

The new mobile phone system will be available throughout the aircraft in all cabins and is targeted at business travellers.

The service is not permitted during take-off or landing, and American laws mean that it has to be turned off around 250 miles from US airspace.

Virgin Atlantic's chief operating officer Steve Griffiths said: "We have listened to what customers want and connectivity in the air is always on the wish list."