Acknowledging that the Boeing 777-300ER is a “critical part” of its fleet renewal effort, American Airlines was forced to delay it’s aircraft’s inaugural flight for seven weeks until January 31, 2013, because of production problems with the first class suite.

American conceded as much in a letter to employees October 30, stating: “We are working with our first class suite supplier to address production issues, which have, unfortunately, delayed the entry into service of our first new 777-300ER.”

The first class suite in the Boeing 777-300ER

American was supposed to operate an inaugural flight December 13, 2012, from Dallas/Fort Worth to Sao Paulo, but has shifted the date of the first flight on the same route to January 31, 2013.

“… often times there are delays with the introduction of a new fleet type as there are a multitude of elements that must align in order to deliver a state-of-the-art product for our customers,” American told employees. “In this case, the entry into service date has shifted because of production issues being encountered by our First Class suite supplier. We are working closely with our supplier to ensure that our final product reflects the inflight experience that our customers expect from American Airlines.”

With a three-class configuration, the 777-300ERs feature lie-flat seats in first and business class.

American says it will still be the first U.S. airline to take delivery of the aircraft, and it is expected to take delivery of 14 of the planes.

Passengers who were already booked on the 777-300ER for flights December 13, 2012, to January 30, 2013, are automatically getting rebooked on 777-200s, but can change the reservation with no change fee or would be able to get a full refund, American says.