TAM Airlines, which will be the first carrier in the Americas to receive and operate the Airbus A350 XWB, has announced the first domestic and international routes it will operate with its new widebody aircraft type.
Oneworld member TAM Airlines expects its first Airbus A350-900 to arrive in the airline’s home nation of Brazil in December and to schedule its first commercial flight with the type for January 2016, on the long domestic sector from São Paulo Guarulhos International Airport (IATA code GRU) to Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes–Manaus International Airport (MAO).
From March 2016, TAM Airlines will begin operating the A350-900 on its first international routes. TAM will introduce the type to international operations on the São Paulo Guarulhos-Miami route in March, and then in April will introduce the A350-900 on its route linking São Paulo Guarulhos with Madrid Barajas Airport.
“We chose São Paulo/Guarulhos to Manaus as the first route of the A350 XWB so the different areas of the company can get to know this new state-of-the-art long-range aircraft,” says Ruy Amparo, vice-president of operations and maintenance for TAM.
“Additionally, it is important for us to have an airplane of this size operating on this route, even in a temporary way, because it is one of Brazil and TAM Cargo’s main air cargo routes,” adds Amparo.
TAM A350 XWB pilots will complete 60 days of flight and ground training to ensure that they are completely familiar with the aircraft. These pilots currently operate TAM’s Airbus A330 widebodies and have been chosen to operate the future A350 fleet because of the high degree of cockpit commonality among all Airbus aircraft models.
This commonality will create efficiencies and reduce costs across operations, training and maintenance, according to TAM Airlines.
“TAM has been preparing to incorporate this innovative aircraft to the fleet since 2012 by building a multidisciplinary team dedicated exclusively to the project,” says José Zaidan Maluf, vice-president of fleet and engines for LATAM Airlines Group, the parent company of TAM Airlines.
“All areas of the company responsible for the operation of the A350 XWB ‒ including the technical and commercial crews and airport, operational and administrative teams ‒ are being trained to receive the new equipment” says Maluf.
TAM Airlines will be the fourth airline in the world (after Qatar Airways, Vietnam Airlines and Finnair) to receive and operate the Airbus A350 XWB.
The Brazilian carrier has placed a firm order for 27 A350-900s, with deliveries expected from late 2015 to 2019. It also holds purchase options on another five A350-900s.