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Copa Airlines

Copa Airlines

by Giuseppe TovarDecember 6, 2013


Copa Airlines is the international airline of Panama, with headquarters in the city of Panama. It flies to 66 destinations in 29 countries in North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean, in addition the airline maintains a strategic alliance with the US company United Airlines. Its main center of connections is the Tocumen International Airport and its largest city regional focus is the Juan Santamaria International Airport in Costa Rica, offering flights every two hours from its center connections of Tocumen. In addition, it has its subsidiary in Colombia.

It was founded in 1947 under the name of Panamanian Aviation Company. It started domestic flights to 3 cities in Panama using a Douglas DC-4 aircraft.

In 1960 it expanded to 3 weekly frequencies to the cities of San José, Kingston, Barranquilla, Medellin, thanks to the incorporation of 1 aircraft Avro 748 and 1 Electra 188.

In the decade of the 70’s it decides to withdraw from the domestic market, and dedicate itself solely to operation of international destinations.

In 1980, it expands its destinations to Cartagena in Colombia, Port au Prince in Haiti, Santo Domingo, San Juan in Puerto Rico and Miami in the United States. They purchased their first Boeing 737-100. The 737-200 arrived in the mid 80’s, reaching 26 planes in its fleet with this specification.

In 1992, it starts operating the first flight connections within Latin America with headquarters in Panama by creating the “Hub of the Americas” in the Tocumen International Airport. For a period of 6 years, between 1992 and 1998, the airline signs a strategic alliance with TACA in which it joins the group along with other Central American airlines such as LACSA of Costa Rica and Aviateca of Guatemala and Nicaragua.

In the decade of the 90’s the destinations of Caracas in Venezuela, Mexico City, Santiago de Chile, Cali and Bogota in Colombia, Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador, Lima in Peru, Buenos Aires in Argentina, and Havana in Cuba are added.

In 1998, the US airline Continental Airlines bought 49% of the shares of the airline, which then sold on the NY Stock Exchange, in order to get out of a possible bankruptcy. From this purchase, Copa Airlines and Continental Airlines launched a new partnership that allowed Copa to enter into Continental’s frequent flyer program OnePass and, at the same time, take advantage of the relationship of Continental Airlines with Boeing for the purchase of new aircraft.

In 2000 it announces the purchase of Next Generation Boeing 737-700 and 737-800 aircraft, and expands its network of destinations to Cancun, Orlando, São Paulo, Los Angeles and San Andres.

In 2003 it receives the first Boeing next-generation 737-800s and extends the shared agreement with Continental Airlines.

In 2004, an agreement is signed for the purchase of the Brazilian Embraer 190 aircraft, with a firm order of 10 and options an additional 20.

In 2005, the airline acquires the Colombian airline AeroRepublica. That same year the holding company for the airlines, launches a public offering of 14 million shares in the New York Stock Exchange, becoming the third Latin American air line (after the LAN Chile and Brazil’s GOL) in trading on this important financial market.

In 2006, the airline added the following destinations: Manaus, Maracaibo, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro, San Pedro Sula and Santiago de los Caballeros.

In 2007, the airline added 4 destinations: Cordoba, Guadalajara, Punta Cana and Washington-Dulles and became an associate member of the SkyTeam alliance.

In 2008, it added 5 destinations: Port of Spain, Belo Horizonte, Valencia, Oranjestad, and Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

In 2009, Copa and Continental Airlines leave the SkyTeam alliance on October 24. During the year they take delivery of 2 Boeing 737-800s and announce the purchase of 13 Boeing 737-800 aircraft with the new design of Boeing “Sky inside”.

In 2010, the airline added St. Maarten and announces the acquisition of 32 Boeing 737-800 aircraft scheduled for delivery between 2015 and 2018, and the beginning of its integration into the Star Alliance. The airline continues with its expansion plan and added 9 destinations, inside of which are: Asuncion, Brasilia, Calcutta, Chicago, Toronto, Nassau, Montego Bay, Monterrey and Porto Alegre.

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About The Author
Giuseppe Tovar
  • Izabella
    December 6, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    I had never heard of Copa Airlines cup until I bought tickets to Costa Rica. With one exception, all has gone well. Usually in time, friendly efficient service. We had a fairly short connection in Panama City, the plane was arriving a little late so we had to run to catch the plane, it is not easy to find the door as the airport was in the process of changing the signals. Luggage did not make the connection, however it was delivered to our hotel by the next day. They delivered the request vegetarian – very good food. A pleasant surprise – to get a glass of wine or a soft drink.

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