LAN will upgrade its daily Sydney-Auckland-Santiago service from the Airbus A340-300 to the Boeing 787 from April 18 2015.
The Chile-based airline said in a statement the Dreamliner used to Sydney would be configured with 30 business and 217 economy seats for a total of 247, suggesting LAN planned to use the original 787-8 to operate the route.
LAN’s 787-9s, to be delivered from 2015, will have 313 seats, according to the airline’s website.
While the upgrade to the 787 on Sydney-Auckland-Santiago will offer passengers improved cabin amenities, there will be a reduction of 13 seats compared with LAN’s four-engined A340-300s currently on the route.
Long overwater flights have been problematic for twin-engined aircraft in the past, given restrictions on how far they can be away from an airport in the event of a single engine failure. The restrictions, called ETOPS, have largely meant routes such as Sydney to Johannesburg or Sydney to Santiago have been flown by four-engined machines such as the Boeing 747 or A340.
The US Federal Aviation Administration approved the 787 for 330-minute ETOPS in May, meaning the aircraft was approved to operate to a maximum of five and a half hours flying time on a single engine from a suitable landing field in the event of engine failure.
Boeing said in June the 330-minute ETOPS opened up Sydney-Santiago and Sydney-Johannesburg – both operated by Qantas – as potential routes for the 787.
Airbus’s newest aircraft the A350 received European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) ETOPS certification for up to 370 minutes in October.
A dummy booking on the LAN website shows the daily service would continue to stop in Auckland in both directions once the 787 starts flying.
Auckland-Santiago was 5,223nm, according to the Great Circle Mapper.
“This announcement marks a milestone moment for LAN Airlines in the Asia Pacific region, as well as the next step in our continued effort and commitment to develop our offering and services in this market” LATAM Airlines Group managing director for Asia Pacific Patricio Aylwin said in the statement, published on the Travel and Tour World website.
“Our fleet is now one of the most modern fleets in the industry, ensuring we continue to provide the most innovative solutions and experiences for our passengers, as well as the most environmentally friendly equipment.”
LAN, which has 26 Dreamliners on order, currently flies its nine 787-8s within the Americas as well as to two European cities, Madrid and Frankfurt.