Towards the end of Aug-2019, LATAM Airlines Group ‘revealed’ its first retrofitted Boeing 777-300ER to the world. The aircraft is the first of the type to showcase the new product, a significant development on what has previously been on offer to the airline’s corporate customers.
But, many of those long-haul customers may have already in fact had the chance to try out the new cabin as the aircraft has been in scheduled service since mid-July following reconfiguration work in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The aircraft initially debuted between LATAM’s key hubs of Sao Paulo and Santiago and in the past week has been serving the markets of Madrid and Miami from Sao Paulo, according to flight routing data.
It is unclear how LATAM is currently scheduling the aircraft. It says the aircraft will be flown on Sao Paulo-Madrid and you would normally deploy any new product on a specific route so premium travellers have a standardised offer. But this past week it has depended which day you are flying on the Sao Paulo-Madrid and Sao Paulo-Miami routes as to whether you enjoyed the new comforts of the reconfigured jet.
According to the CAPA – Centre for Aviation’s Fleet Database, the aircraft (registration PT-MUD) is the only example currently reconfigured with the new product. LATAM has a fleet of ten 777-300ERs and all the aircraft are set for the redesign, which will see older 56-seat business class cabins replaced with a 38 seat arrangement providing all passengers with aisle access. This is pretty much expected as standard nowadays by premium travellers, albeit is a new offering for the South American airline on the widebody.
The former high-density arrangement had a 2-3-2 design and did not offer a full-flat recline and were not well liked by premium customers. The earliest aircraft have been in service over ten years having arrived in 2H 2008, the rest following over the Aug-2012 to Aug-2013 period.
The arrival of the new business class on the 777-300ER follows the debut of the product on the 767-300ER earlier this year. This time it was a LATAM Airlines Chile aircraft, and it seemingly remains the only example to have been reconfigured, according to the CAPA Fleet Database.
It seems the ambitious programme for over 200 aircraft – approximately two-thirds of LATAM’s global fleet – to be fitted with its new interior and in-flight experience over the next two years may prove to be a tough ask, but it is certainly well worth the wait.
Alongside the new all-aisle access premium business seat, a revamped economy cabin and LATAM+ seats, will offer increased space and premium services such as priority boarding. This is all part of a USD400 million investment plan announced in Aug-2018 for LATAM to transform the cabins of both long and short haul aircraft.
The new premium business cabin appears to be gradually being introduced to the airline group’s long-haul (widebody) fleet, including current 767 and 777 aircraft and will be standard on new 787-9 and Airbus A350-1000 due for delivery. LATAM is also modernising the cabins of over 150 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft. LATAM hopes to have the remaining nine 777-300ERs completed by the end of 2020.
The new business class interior sees the introduction of the “Wide Thompson” seat from Thompson Aero that reclines to a fully-flat position, while offering direct aisle access and an 18-inch inflight personal screen. Meanwhile, the economy cabin will be fitted with Reacro seats and provide USB power ports to charge devices and a 12-inch inflight entertainment screen.
But, the new premium offer it is more than just a new seat. Adding to the business class experience, and defining the airline’s Latin American roots, passengers will also be treated to a new menu composed by Brazilian and Chilean chefs using locally sourced fresh South American ingredients accompanied by Argentinian and Chilean wines.
Alongside the routes from Sao Paulo to Madrid and Miami, LATAM also currently uses its 777-300ER on flights from the Brazilian city to Frankfurt and London Heathrow.