Qantas subsidiary Jetstar has begun the fleetwide rollout of pre-loaded Apple iPads as an alternative to seat-back inflight entertainment (IFE), which the carrier claims is an industry first.

Jetstar previously ran trials of iPads for IFE and will debut them on Airbus A320 flights, beginning today. Other airlines also have conducted limited trials. Jetstar made an initial purchase of 3,000 of the devices, which will be introduced across its Australia, New Zealand and international short-haul fleets in the coming weeks. The technology will be rolled out to the Airbus A330 fleet, beginning in December.

Passengers on flights longer than two hours can pay AU$10 ($10.32) per flight segment to use an iPad, or AU$15 on long-haul flights. There will be 24 carried on each A320, 30 on A321s and 160 on A330s. The devices have been fitted with a content management system, so they contain a specific range of pre-loaded movies, games, magazines and television shows.

They will not be wireless enabled and are fitted with tracking devices to prevent theft, Jetstar says. The iPads will have a purpose-built case and stand, and the carrier says it plans to fit some of its A320s and A321s to allow the iPads to be inserted in the back of the headrest for viewing.

Jetstar is pricing the iPad service the same as the video-on-demand units it currently uses on many flights.