Two LAN Boeing 767s to Caribbean
|Monday 11 June 2012||Text by Carlos Ay under Commercial air transport|
In a move stemming from LAN Airliners’ fleet renewal plans, two of their older Boeing 767-300ERs were withdrawn from commercial service by the Chilean carrier in the first half of 2012 and are finding their way into warmer weather in Trinidad & Tobago. According to Caribbean Airlines press releases, both aircraft are now destined to inaugurate their non-stop services between London (United Kingdom) and Caribbean destinations, Port of Spain (Trinidad) and Bridgetown (Barbados). To that purpose, aircraft owner International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) and the future operator of those two aircraft contracted Mexicana’s maintenance and overhaul subsidiary to repaint and reconfigure the aircraft with what the airline describes as “state of the art cabins, which include in-seat power and video and flatbed Business Class seats”. The first two aircraft of its range and endurance in a fleet otherwise dominated by shorter-range jets (Boeing 737-800) and commuter turboprops (Dash-8-Q300 and ATR-72-600), these teen age seven-six-sevens are being incorporated to offer reliable non-stop travel choices to European customers looking for onward connections to other Caribbean, North and South American destinations.
|From Chilean lone star to Caribbean humming bird: These two close-up views demonstrate the radical livery change that both CC-CEB (illustrated) and CC-CDP are going through at Mexicana MRO (photos: Carlos Ay and via Arturo Max, respectively)|
Starting 14 June, Caribbean Airlines will provide four weekly non-stop flights on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. Flights will depart from Port of Spain/Piarco International (Trinidad) at 7:10 p.m. and out of London/Gatwick on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 11:50 a.m. (all times, local). Come 30 June, Caribbean will start twice-weekly services between Bridgetown/Grantley Adams International (Barbados) and Gatwick. Barbados outbound flights will operate as BW900 on Tuesdays and Saturdays, while the return legs will operate as BW901 departing London on Wednesdays and Sundays. Company literature boasts that “customers can look forward to a reliable service served with natural Caribbean warmth, ethnic gourmet cuisine and great value added benefits including frequent flyer Caribbean miles and complimentary bags”. Founded in 2006, Caribbean Airlines says it presently “serves 16 markets in the Caribbean, South America and North America, operating a core schedule of 530 weekly departures with a fleet of 21 aircraft”. Synthesizing their corporate vision, acting Chief Executive Officer Robert Corbie recently said “we are well positioned strategically to become the preferred airline for all customers flying between the Caribbean and London”.
Both aircrafts involved in the deal were part of the first 10 extended-range 767-300s acquired by LanChile in the mid-1990s through operating leases contracted with ILFC. Delivered in 1996, they would go through two major paint changes witnessing LAN corporate identity evolution, from the original LanChile scheme (white-top/silver-belly with red and white cheat lines), to the LAN/LANCHILE New Millennium format (blue-top/white-belly), to the present plain LAN livery (forward-white/rear-blue). They were also part of a US $ 75 million programme to install winglets in the entire 767-300ER fleet between 2009 and 2011, this resulting in an estimated 4% increase in fuel efficiency and an about 113,000 tonne reduction in CO2 emissions (through December 2011). Purchased for service to several long-range or high-density destinations throughout the Americas, they also saw service in Europe and Easter Island. Their departure from LAN Airlines’ fleet is ostensibly related to their replacement by 13 factory-fresh 767-300ERs purchased in 2010/2011 and scheduled to be delivered in 2012 (9 aircraft) and 2013 (4 aircraft).
The first aircraft to leave LAN ranks was the fourth carrier of registration CC-CEB. The 621st seven-six-seven to leave the Boeing Everett plant, it carries c/n 26327 and model designator 767-316ER (incorporating Boeing’s customer code for LAN, #16). Delivered in July 1996, it wore the original LanChile livery through 1998. It reappeared in the New Millennium LAN/LANCHILE livery at the turn of the Century, was reallocated to LAN Peru for a couple years starting in 2005 and was finally repainted in the present LAN plain scheme later that year. Its last major transformation took place in the second quarter of 2010, when the aircraft was fitted with winglets. Last noted in LAN service in February this year, the aircraft purportedly abandoned LAN Airlines’ fleet on 1 May and moved on to Mexico/Benito Juárez International for reconfiguration by Mexicana MRO. According to Swiss knowledge base CH-Aviation, it is destined to be registered 9Y-LGW in Trinidad & Tobago. Interestingly enough, this author had the chance to fly on board this particular aircraft four times between April and November 2001. The four times were on the same flight number and route (LA 441, Santiago de Chile-Buenos Aires), with captains Álvaro Soto, Álvaro Díaz, Luis Menares and Francisco de Diego at the helm.
The other aircraft in this operation was the second one to carry Chilean marks CC-CDP. Slightly older than its predecessor, it was the 602nd airframe in the Everett production line, carries c/n 27597 and is also designated a “LAN native” 767-316ER. Delivered to LanChile in February 1996, it preceded sister ship CC-CEB in starting service, in its two livery changes (1999 and 2004) and also in the fitting of winglets (second half of 2009). According to our own research and estimates, CC-CDP was last noted in service with LAN in January, was first noted undergoing repaint in Mexico in mid-May and should be delivered to the Caribbean during June 2012. Once again, the author flew on board this specific aircraft twice in 2001. This happened in two consecutive flights while on a Chilean national holiday vacation in Buenos Aires: LA 441 on 14 September (Santiago-Buenos Aires) and LA 6534 on 19 September (Buenos Aires-Santiago). Captains for these two flights were Gustavo de la Cruz and Germán Hinojosa.
Sources: Airfleets, Airliners, Caribbean Airlines, CH-Aviation, Ian P. Burnett: Civil Aircraft Registers of Chile (Air Britain, United Kingdom, 1985), LAN Airlines: Memoria Anual 2011 (LAN Airlines, Chile, 2012) and Plane Spotters.
Arturo Max also contributed to this report with data and images.