It's the biggest twinjet in the world, it's made in Seattle, and it has been around since 2004 -- but it has never flown under the American flag. That is, until Tuesday, when American Airlines took delivery of its first Boeing 777-300ER.
The 304-seat plane is the first of 13 ordered by American Airlines (PINK:AAMRQ), which will make the plane the flagship of its international network as the carrier prepares to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
According to a press release from Boeing, American plans for the airplane to enter service in early 2013 on the Dallas/Fort Worth to Sao Paulo route.
It's a telling sign of the times that the airline isn't using its newest intercontinental jet for its most prestigious, and highly profitable, London route, but for its fast-emerging Brazilian market. According to the IATA, the international organization of airlines, Latin America will see international passenger demand grow by 5.7 percent in the 2009 to 2014 period. That's more than the organization forecast for North America and Europe.
John Wojick, senior vice president of global sales at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, called the new 777 "the ideal airplane for American's fleet renewal effort, providing unparalleled operating economics, long-range capability, reliability and passenger comfort," according to the statement.
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Most of the 300ERs the Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) is building are going to Asia and the Middle East, and most of them to one airline only: the Dubai-based Emirates, which has made the Boeing jet the centerpiece of its wildly successful expansion strategy, ordering the staggering total of 151. It already flies more than 80 of the planes, which according to Boeing have a maximum range of 7,930 nautical miles (14,685 km).
American's 777-300ER is configured with three classes, featuring lie-flat seats in first and business class. The airplane will have onboard Internet using the eXConnect Wi-Fi system built by Panasonic Corporation (TYO:6752).
The introduction of the new jet comes as American Airlines parent AMR Corp. remains engaged in a confrontation with US Airways Group Inc. (NYSE:LCC), which is aiming to merge with American and is vying for the support of AMR's creditors.