LATAM operates 87 wide body aircrafts between their six passenger brands. Of those 87 wide body planes 24 planes are 787’s. Unfortunately for LATAM, some of their 787 planes have Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines. These engines have had serious issues with fan blades developing hairline cracks in the engine. Thankfully, there has not been any serious incidents due to the cracks but it has led to many airlines grounding brand new planes in order to preform necessary maintenance. Just two days ago Aaron reported that ANA plans to cancel an additional 176 flights due to the same issue.
What is LATAM doing differently from ANA?
LATAM took a different approach instead of drastically reducing their schedule. They decided to dry lease two 16 year old Singapore Airlines 777-200 planes that have been sporadically stored in different locations for the past three years. The planes should be flying soon as they were just delivered to LATAM. The planes registration CC-BKA and CC-BKB are currently configured with a total of 285 seats spread out between 30 business class seats and 255 economy class seats with the Singapore Airlines product from around 2005. These planes represent a good middle ground between the 787-8 and 787-9 which carry 247/313 seats respectively. The photos below show that this plane is truly in need of an interior overhaul, that it will likely not get before flying for LATAM. Something as minor as a new seat cover could make a huge improvement here.
Desde esta madrugada esta en SCL el primer triple siete con matrícula Charlie Charlie se trata del B777-212 ex 9V-SVF de Singapore Airlines que operará para LATAM como CC-BKB fotos cortesía de mi informante número uno pic.twitter.com/2fiSLCkrOq
— Francisco Ascencio (@rlasgalaxias) July 10, 2018
What routes will the plane be flying?
The first flight is scheduled from Santiago (SCL) to Easter Island (IPC) on July 18. Starting in August, Easter Island flights are scheduled to drop to just once per week. It is rumored that the plane will be flying between Santiago (SCL) and Auckland (AKL) during that time. That is just a rumor at this point and the schedule change has not been loaded yet.
Regardless this is a huge downgrade, especially for those in business class, as you will be going from a modern fully lie flat product to the very old angled flat “Spacebed” of Singapore Airlines with very small and dated entertainment screens. While it may seem like a cool idea to fly on a product that is no longer flying, I would recommend saving your money. If you have to fly with LATAM on one of these route be sure to bring a fully loaded iPad and external battery with you to stay entertained.
Business class is set up in the 2-2-2 configuration and economy in comfortable 3-3-3 configuration that matches what you would find aboard the 787.
How long will these planes remain in LATAM’s fleet?
I’m not sure. This isn’t the first time that LATAM has leased aircrafts to cover flying for 787 issues. As recently as March they had wet-leased a WAMOS 747 and A330. Currently LATAM has four 787’s that are parked awaiting engine inspection/replacement. There still isn’t a permanent solution to the problems with the Trent 1000 engines. Rolls Royce hopes to have the solution by the end of this year and to have all planes in working order by 2019.
Would you rather have your flight cancelled or downgraded to an older product?
*This post has been updated to reflect more current information on 7/20/2018