American Airlines bets on 777s

Published On: Feb 01 2013 06:30:29 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 02 2013 07:42:05 PM EST
MIAMI -

American Airlines hopes its billion dollar investment into brand-new Boeing 777s will pay off in the long run.

American Airlines' first Boeing 777-300ER flew from Dallas to Sao Paolo, Brazil, Thursday and is getting rave reviews from passengers.

"I was really surprised, actually," said aviation enthusiast Chris Sloan.

Sloan posted pictures to his Facebook page of the nine hour flight showing American Airlines CEO Tom Horton serving champagne, shrimp, curry chicken, and ice cream sundaes.

"It stacks right up there with British Airways, Cafe Pacific and some of those airlines that are world renowned. I mean, this was a quantum leap forward," said Sloan.

The 777 is equipped to carry nearly 300 passengers. It seats 10 across in the economy section. Passenger can choose from more than 250 movies, 180 television programs, and 350 music stations, and there's satellite Wi-Fi throughout.

But it's also expensive. Boeing sells the 777-300ER for nearly $300 million. Boeing says the aircraft is one of its most efficient aircrafts, using 30 percent less fuel than it's rival and costs 40 percent less to maintain.

Some consider it a hefty price for an airline emerging from bankruptcy, but airline industry analyst Seth Kaplan called it a strategic move. He said American Airlines is betting that fuel prices will remain high.

"What American is doing is basically buying the hybrid, the Toyota Prius, and saying we're going spend more now and but save fuel later," said Kaplan. "Other airlines have done it differently."

Delta for example, he says, has decided to maintain its much older fleet, betting in the long run it'll be cheaper to buy fuel than new planes.

"Delta, by the way, is the most profitable airline in America," said Kaplan.

American will spend $40 billion dollars over the next five years on more than 400 brand new planes, including 14 more 777-300ERs.

"This was really kind of the beginning of a new airline so that made it kind of significant," said Sloan.