Virgin Atlantic is to enable passengers to make and receive phone calls while in the air.

The service will initially be available on new Airbus A330 aircraft flying between London and New York.

The mobile connection, which also includes the sending and receiving of text messages, will also feature on the airline’s Boeing 747s, which are currently going through a £50 million refurbishment.

Nearly 20 aircraft are due to provide the service by the end of the year.

It is part of £100 million investment by Virgin, including a redesigned upper class cabin.

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

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

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