Brazil's TAM Airlines is ripping the luxe first class seats from its international Boeing 777 fleet in favour of a larger and upgraded business class cabin.
Part of South America's LATAM Airlines Group and recently admitted into the Oneworld alliance, TAM says the shift in its premium passenger strategy is due to low patronage of the new first class cabin (below), introduced only last year on its flagship Boeing 777-300ER jets.
Photo gallery: TAM's slick Boeing 777 first class
“We took this decision to enable us improve the business class seats and the on-board service offered to passengers, after taking into consideration the average load factor of the first class" said LATAM Group chief marketing officer Jerome Cadier.
TAM will "discontinue first class services on flights to the United States, Europe and Mexico" from November 1. Sales of first class tickets have already been withdrawn on those routes.
While losing their stylish first class cabin – created by highly-regarded London consulting firm Priestmangoode along the lines of a 'living room in the sky' – TAM's Boeing 777s will gain new business class seats, and more of them.
TAM has shared few details on its Boeing 777 busines class upgrade, apart from that the new seats will be 84 inches (2.13 metres) long when reclined, which represents a 15% increase over the current seats.
However, it's expected that the airline will adopt the same new business class seats as LATAM will be fitting across its Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 fleet.
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.
TAM's Boeing 777's business class refit is expected to be finished by the middle of 2015.
The airline is also adding a dedicated crew member "who will be responsible for overseeing the flight experience", Cadier explains.
"With this change, we will be able to offer an even better and more personalized on-board service to more passengers".
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.