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Airlines, Chile, LAN Airlines, United Airlines

The Americas Get Their First 787 – in South America

As a new resident of South America, and a semi-regular on LAN, I’m excited by the news that today (31 Aug 2012 US West Coast date), LAN Airlines took delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Though not the first Dreamliner to reach the Americas, it is the first by an American Airline, LAN Airlines, of Chile, South America. “American” referring to the single supercontinent of The Americas, taken together, as it is commonly considered by most of the non-North American world.

The "dome" upon entry to the LAN 787 - photo credit USA TodayThe Everett, Washington (main Boeing assembly location) Weekly Herald reports on the delivery. United will be the second Americas airline, getting a 787 later this North American fall, and running a new Denver to Tokyo route and other “long and narrow” routes, after some US-domestic familiarization flights. United’s partner in Star Alliance and in its deeper bilateral Trans-Pacific joint-venture revenue share deal, is already flying 787s to the USA, as is their competitor JAL.

But nobody from the Western Hemisphere is yet flying them. LAN starts the onboard party. Just look at the photo (credit USA Today) with the high-ceiling, bright mood lighting, open airy feel as you board. This isn’t an artist’s rendering or a mock-up, it’s what LAN actually got from Boeing. Sadly, United cheapened out and just got the regular interior – why am I not surprised?

The LAN Dreamliners will be in service on flights from Santiago, base of the “home” LAN (fka “LAN Chile”) subsidiary of the LAN Airlines brand, which also includes LAN Argentina, LAN Ecuador, LAN Peru, and newest member LAN Colombia. Unknown if any of those other “LAN” airlines will get the Dreamliner. In recent years, rather than buying more planes within each subsidiary, LAN (Chile) has leased planes to its partners, at least on the newer widebodies. So some might show up, especially on LAN Peru, which does a decent amount of its own widebody longhaul.

LAN is also now the senior partner in the new giant LATAM Airlines, parent now of both LAN and TAM of Brazil. TAM is continuing to fly as a separate brand for at least the next few years per the merger agreement and various government agencies’ conditions on it. So I wouldn’t expect any TAM 787s yet, at least not until it possibly becomes LAN Brasil in a few years.

I’m hoping LAN puts this on North America routes from Santiago, eliminating the fuel/cargo/passenger stop in Lima, Peru on the way to Los Angeles. I will be going back to the States at least a couple of times yearly. The articles mention it will also serve Madrid, I hope from Santiago. The 787 should be great on such a long flight, and more economical for them compared to the thirsty A340 4-engine service they now run from Lima, Peru. Would give me a nice option to Europe from South America without those annoying, even if a US Citizen, USA full-immigration/customs/TSA connections. Slight trans-Andean backtrack, but hey, South America is pretty narrow down here!

About Mark Mercer

Expat aging sometime-ski-bum former corporate tool. Currently living in the beachside aging resort town of Atlántida in Uruguay. Sometimes skiing and teaching in Breckenridge, Colorado, USA. Location and velocity cannot be simultaneously observed.

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