American’s First Boeing 777-300ER, N718AN, seen at DFW Gate D-23, the day of departure flew the inaugural flight. Much more than just a new aircraft joining the fleet, It signifies the re-birth of an iconic airline. Image from Chris Sloan / Airchive.com.
This is a multi-part story written by Chris Sloan (@Airchive) on the changes at American Airlines and the inaugural Boeing 777-300 flight to Sao Paulo.
On January 31, 2013 American Airlines launched their first Boeing 777-300 ER into service with attention that rivaled any airline’s launch of a new type in recent memory. On the face of it, even though American became the first operator of the 777-300 in the United States, this event would almost seem overkill if for that reason alone. After all, American began 777-200 flights back in 1999 and the first 777-300 was first delivered to an airline, Cathay Pacific back in May, 1998. The first 777-300ER entered service nearly 10 years ago with Air France. Boeing’s two stretch variants of their venerable cash cow, the 777, easily have become the type’s most popular versions with over 680 orders and deliveries between them out of the entire 777 program’s 1,380 orders and deliveries. (as of December, 2012). In an era of smaller airliners, American inaugurated the 777-300, the largest new airliner by a U.S. carrier since the last Boeing 747-400s entered service with U.S. airliners in the late 1990s.
This inaugural, flight 963, from Dallas/Ft. Worth to São Paulo, Brazil in the author’s view is one of the most significant in the airline industry in years because it is about something much bigger than just the launch of a new airliner, it’s about the re-birth of a proud American institution that happens to bear the name of our country – American Airlines.
American Airlines Electra at Port Columbus International Airport (CMH) in 1967. Image by Bob Garrard.
American Airlines problems are well known. After becoming the world’s largest airline with its 2000 acquisition of TWA, the 2000s were not kind at all to the Silver Bird. TWA and American merged during an economic downturn and by most accounts, the merger was anything but an unqualified success.
American shed most of TWA’s assets, routes, staff, and many of its aircraft. On September 11th, 2 of American’s airliners, their crew, and passengers were forever lost in the atrocities of this horrible day. As if things couldn’t get any worse, the world’s airline industry hemorrhaged with the U.S. legacy carriers losing more money during this time then they had profited in their entire history. All of them declared Chapter 11, with the exception of American. Under the category of “no good deed goes unpunished”, this decision would come back to haunt American for years.
Continue reading The Eagle Rises from The Ashes: American Airlines Inaugural 777-300ER Flight PART1