TAM

TAM’s new First Class recreates a living room up in the air

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

TAM, the ambitious flag carrier of Brazil which earlier this year merged with LAN from Chile to create a Latin American airline giant, has just unveiled new cabin interiors – designed by Priestmangoode – to mark its arrival on the world stage.

Says Priestmangoode Director Luke Hawes: “Our work for TAM is crucial to their brand development, giving them the customer experience they need as they move up to become a major international carrier. The designs we will roll out across their entire fleet will present them as an important international player and give them the tools they need to compete with the world’s other major international carriers.”

Interior redesign
In 2009, TAM hired Priestmangoode to redesign the entire onboard experience – from cabin architecture, seats, galleys and lavatories to staff uniforms, in-flight amenities and the graphic user interface (GUI) of the IFE system. According to TAM Brand Manager Ricardo Cruz, the airline aims “to put TAM on the map” with the new cabin interior program, which is “inspired by everything Brazil has got to offer.” A nice illustration of this is the floor pattern of the bathrooms which is inspired by the famous Copacabana sidewalks in Rio de Janeiro.

Four classes
TAM’s new cabin interior has already made its debut on three new Boeing 777-300ERs delivered to the airline in the past few weeks. The new B777s can seat 368 passengers in 4 classes: First, Business, Space + and Economy.

TAM’s Economy cabin has received a colourful makeover and features rows of seats – manufactured by Weber – in various bright colours that reflect the carrier’s Brazilian origin: lime green, aqua blue and a brighter shade of TAM’s corporate red. TAM will also introduce a new ‘Space +’ product, which offers similar seats as in Economy, but with a larger seat pitch and recline, as well as a different seat colour. Read full article

Innovative Airlines 2012: #5 TAM

Established in 1976 as a regional carrier, TAM has quickly become the flag-carrying airline of Brazil after the demise of Varig in 2006. TAM is currently in the process of merging with LAN from Chile to create one of the largest airline groups worldwide, called LATAM Airlines Group. The merger between LAN and TAM is a response to the consolidation of the airline industry in the USA and Europe, as well as the rise of ‘Gulf Gullivers’ such as Emirates, who are increasing their presence in Latin America due to the region’s high growth perspective.

Based at São Paulo’s two overburdoned airports, Guarulhos International Airport and Congonhas (domestic flights), TAM carried 37.7 million passengers in 2011 and today flies to 42 destinations in Brazil and 19 destinations internationally, with a fleet of 156 aircraft. The airline has been growing rapidly in recent years, taking advantage of Brazil’s expanding middle class, many of whom are abandoning intercity buses and flying for the first time. In 2011, demand for domestic flights in Brazil increased by 16 percent and growth is expected to continue with 7 to 9 percent in 2012. TAM is also expected to benefit from the world cup soccer and the Olympic Games, which will be held in Brazil in respectively 2014 and 2016. Following a 22 percent revenue increase of its international operations in 2011, the airline will take delivery of 8 B777s during 2012 and 2013.

Besides its rapid expansion, TAM aims to differentiate itself with innovative products and services, such as offering passengers a 1970’s-style retro experience onboard or letting kids help distribute candies before the flight takes off. The airline has also been the first carrier in Latin America to introduce onboard connectivity, operate biofuel-powered flights and will unveil an entirely redesigned cabin interior in the second half of 2012.

Interior redesign
In 2009, TAM hired Priestmangoode to completely redesign the entire passenger experience for the airline – from cabin architecture, seats, galleys and lavatories to staff uniforms and in-flight service provisions, such as meals. Priestmangoode has also been responsible for the design of the graphic user interface (GUI) of the Panasonic IFE system, so the look and feel of the system would be an extension of the new cabin interior. The new interior will make its debut on TAM’s Boeing 777-300ERs which will be forthcoming from August 2012 onwards, and TAM’s existing fleet of narrow- and widebody aircraft will also be retrofitted with the new cabins.

Says Priestmangoode Director Luke Hawes: “Our work for TAM is crucial to their brand development, giving them the customer experience they need as they move up to become a major international carrier. Our experience of flying with TAM is that their service is exceptional. But their brand presentation currently just doesn’t match it. The designs we will roll out across their entire fleet will present them as an important international player and give them the tools they need to compete with the world’s other major international carriers.”
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TAM lets kids help flight attendants with onboard service

A growing number of airlines are launching dedicated services and products aimed at improving the flight experience for families with children. From the previously discussed ‘Happy Mom’ initiative by Asiana and the ‘Sky Nanny’ by Gulf Air to kid-friendly tray table covers, these kinds of initiatives may be welcomed not just by parents and children, but also by other passengers who also benefit from initiatives that keep the youngest passengers entertained. Passenger complaints about sitting near children are a recurrent issue in flying.

One airline that has been very creative in keeping the kids busy in-flight as well engaging children in the world of aviation, is Brazilian airline TAM.

TAM Kids
Together with educational advisors, TAM developed the TAM Kids program which consists of three main elements: A TAM Kids website where children can play games, get to know characters from the TAM Kids Team and learn about the history of aviation, the experience on board the aircraft, and a ‘kids room’ at the TAM museum that includes aviation-related toys, games and attractions, including flight simulators and a hangar and control tower replica.

Onboard experience
With parental consent, children up to 12 years of age can also sign up for TAM Kids and receive an official ‘Comandante Kid’ badge. On-board, children with ‘Comandante Kid’ badges are invited to help the crew by welcoming passengers on the flight’s PA system, distributing candies before the flight takes off (videos here and here), and visiting the cockpit after the aircraft has landed. In addition, TAM provides the children with the TAM Kids magazine, kid-friendly meals, and on international flights, IFE channels with movies and music for children.
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Airlines in Brazil open ‘mini stores’ at subway stations to engage emerging middle class

Brazil, the largest South American country, has recently enjoyed a tremendous growth of its middle class, resulting in increased demand for aviation. In fact, the Brazilian middle class grew from 30 percent of the population in the 1960s and ‘70s to 55 to 60 percent in 2011. In 2010, the lower-middle class accounted for 34 percent of domestic tourism, almost double that of 2002. In the last 10 years, the demand for air travel in Brazil has increased by 194 percent. Much of this increased demand comes from the members of the new Brazilian middle class, many of whom are entirely new to air travel. TAM estimated that in 2011 there were going to be 10.7 million first-time flyers.

Brazil’s airlines have been developing innovative strategies as they compete to win over this new market. In the past, airlinetrends.com discussed marketing strategies adopted by TAM to target this first-time flying segment. TAM, and its low-cost competitor GOL, have continued to target the emerging middle class with novel sales channels, including sales kiosks at subway and bus stations.

GOL
During 2011, GOL opened kiosks in subway stations where they provide not only information, but also the option to book, change and/or cancel a flight. The first kiosks were opened in Sao Paulo’s Itaquera, Sé and Luz subway stations in March 2011 and GOL subsequently opened additional kiosks in Sao Paulo’s Tatuapé station, Rio de Janeiro’s Central do Brasil station, Porto Alegre’s Estação Mercado do Metrô station, and one in Salvador.

The main goal of this new distribution channel is to engage the new Brazilian middle class in aviation. According to GOL’s Market Vice President, Claudia Pagnano, “The new identity comprises items referring to airports, as well as illustrations showing the main phases of a flight.” In order to provide better service and meet the needs of a ‘typical’ subway user, GOL’s kiosk teams completed 20 days of specialized training courses that focus on the habits of the emerging middle class, selling techniques, and language skills.
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Brazilian TAM goes retro to celebrate its roots in a time of rapid expansion

As the airline industry has always captured people’s imagination, airlines – legacy carriers in particular – can tap their heritage to incorporate a bit of storytelling into the travel experience (see also our earlier ‘heritage marketing’ report). BA’s new ‘To Fly. To Serve’ retro-style brand campaign, for example, aims to showcase the airline’s history and emphasize its ‘Britishness’. Brazilian airline TAM, meanwhile, has taken this retro approach several steps further by creating a vintage onboard experience on two of its aircraft.

TAM Vintage
Since May 2010, TAM has offered passengers on shuttle flights between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro a full retro experience on board  two A319 aircraft. Highlighting two important moments of the airline’s history, the first aircraft is painted in TAM’s livery dating from the 1970’s, when the company launched its regional operations. The other aircraft was painted in a 1990’s color scheme, a time of great expansion and national level recognition.


The TAM Vintage project was launched at both Sao Paulo’s Congonhas and Rio de Janeiro’s Santos Dumont airports in May 2010. Actors dressed up like in the 70’s greeted passengers at check-in counters with a music band playing songs of that time.

On both aircraft, the seats, on board service, printed materials and other details are modified to create a nostalgic atmosphere. Cabin crew and pilots wear uniforms from the 70’s and 90’s: Red skirts below the knee for the ladies and a white cap and jackets with large gold buttons for the pilots.

The aircraft interior has also received a retro makeover, with seat covers, carpets and curtains refurbished in the fabric and pattern of old times. Meals are served on old-fashioned disposable tableware.
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Air New Zealand and TAM let staff fit their uniforms in a boutique environment

In what is another example that everything can and will be upgraded in the end, Air New Zealand (ANZ), which tops the airlinetrends.com ‘Innovative Airlines’ list, offers it staff a boutique-like environment to pick up their uniforms. The airline has commissioned interior designers Gascoigne Associates to create a space that embodied the design of its new uniforms by New Zealand fashion designer Trelise Cooper (which by the way received a mixed response from ANZ’s crew).

Called ‘Clothes Hangar’, ANZ staff are greeted by stylists on arrival, can watch a welcome video on the LCD screen and view mannequins dressed in the new uniform, giving them an opportunity to see how the different uniform pieces can work together as a total wardrobe solution, as well as touch and feel the final fabrications. The Clothes Hangar also has a ‘Styling Room’ with on-site beauty consultants that help staff to select new shoes or demonstrate preferred make-up applications and hair do’s to fully accent the new uniform.

The bright white space is filled with graffiti-like graphics and blue tube racking rails wind their way through the space and into the fitting rooms, while a blue dotted line snakes across the floor. The ‘check-out’ area is highlighted with a bright pink counter with ‘graffiti’ designs printed on textured wallpaper. Outside the ‘check-out’ space is a large ornate framed window covered in Polaroid images of staff in their new uniforms. On leaving staff are asked to write a comment about their experience on brightly coloured post-it notes, which are stuck to the entry lobby walls.
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TAM takes an innovative approach to attract Brazil’s emerging middle class

Rising disposable income in emerging economies such as the BRICs and the Next-11 enables the rapidly growing middle classes in these countries to start travelling by air, often for the first time (see this graph for the link between GDP and the average number of flights per capita). For example recent IATA estimates project there will be 3.3 billion air travellers by 2014, up by 800 million from the 2.5 billion passengers in 2009, with China accounting for more than a quarter of this growth.

According to Brazilian airline TAM, the middle class in Brazil has grown three times as fast as the overall population since 2002, and in 2011 roughly 6 million people are expected to move from Class C (yearly income of USD700 to 3,000) to Class B in 2011, earning over USD 6,000 a year. TAM furthermore estimates that 10.7 million Brazilians are set to hit the skies for the first time in 2011, 8.7 million of whom belong to the ‘emerging classes’ C and D (source: TAM/Sparksheet).

Reaching first-time flyers
Research by TAM shows, however, that 53 percent of the Brazilian middle class has never travelled by air, while 58 percent has travelled more than 8 hours by bus, since a lot of people in Brazil work outside their home states. In an effort to make air travel more accessible to the overall Brazilian population, increase the volume of passengers at off-peak hours, and to counter growing competition from low-cost airlines such as GOL and Azul, TAM has taken an innovative approach to reach this new segment.

The airline sells tickets via low-end retail chain Casas Bahia, will open 200 ‘TAM Viagens’ travel stores in smaller cities across Brazil, offers new ways to pay for tickets, provides advice to first-time flyers and created ads (for example on pizza boxes) that include price and payment plans to show that travelling with TAM is affordable (tagline: “Você vai e vai de TAM” / “You go and go by TAM”).
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