South American airline and Qantas partner LAN is gearing up for growth on its Sydney-Santiago route, driven in part by next month's launch of a Boeing 787-8 on the 16 hour flight.
Although LAN has not set a date for the upgrade from its ageing and fuel-guzzling Airbus A340 to the advanced Boeing 787, the airline's booking system currently shows Saturday April 18 as the Dreamliner's debut.
The Boeing 787's passenger-friendly features include a lower cabin altitude and higher humidity to help defeat tiredness and jetlag.
LAN also expects to see a bump in trans-Tasman bookings, as the Sydney-Santiago flight makes a brief stop at Auckland in both directions, with tickets available through LAN as well as Oneworld chum and codeshare partner Qantas.
The Boeing 787 will feature LAN's second generation of lie-flat business class seats, with an all-new design shared on its forthcoming Airbus A350s, although the Dreamliner will have only 30 business class seats compared to 42 on the current A340.
The larger Boeing 787-9 will take over the route "in late Q3 or early Q4" says Johanna Raeder, LATAM's Asia-Pacific Marketing and Communications Manager, but will have the same-size business class cabin.
A recent deal to double the number of airline seats flown between Australia and Chile will also allow both LAN and Qantas to boost services between the two countries, as well as letting Qantas expand its codeshare with LATAM to include more destinations across South America via Santiago.
Qantas this month added a fourth weekly non-stop Boeing 747 service from Sydney to Santiago, while LAN is evaluating an additional three flights each week on top of its daily roster.
LATAM comms exec Raeder also tells Australian Business Traveller that the separate loyalty schemes of Chile's LAN and Brazil's TAM – respectively LANPASS and Fidelidade – "will probably merge in the future, but there is no set timetable for that."
Inside LAN's Boeing 787
LAN and TAM will use the same seats and cabin across their Airbus A350 and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner fleets.
Together, LAN and TAM have ten Boeing 787-9s and 27 Airbus A350-900s on order, with both due to arrive this year.
The airline boasts the cabin as letting travellers "experience the vibrancy and warmth of the region the moment they step on board."
Arranged in a front-facing 2-2-2 layout, the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787-9 business class seats convert to fully lie-flat beds.
LATAM's designs come from highly-regarded consulting firm Priestmangoode, which says the palette of natural tones was inspired by South America’s warm colours and textures.
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