The first Boeing 737, a Dash 800 for COPA, to be produced at the increased 38 aircraft per month rate rolls-out of paint on March 18, 2013. (Credits: Boeing)

MIAMI – Copa Airlines, a subsidiary of Copa Holdings, SA (NYSE: CPA), and a member of the global Star Alliance network, celebrated its 70-year history with a special event that was held in its Maintenance Hangar in Tocumen International Airport in Panama, where company executives recalled how in 1947 a group of Panamanian entrepreneurs with a bright vision of the future, left Pan Am to create Copa Airlines.

The airline would start its domestic service connecting the Panamanian capital to two local cities.

Today, 70 years later, Copa Airlines offers a large network of routes in Latin America, connecting a total of 75 destinations in 31 countries throughout the American continent.

This continued growth has been made possible largely by the effectiveness of the Hub of the Americas, which has made Tocumen International Airport the leading hub in Latin America and strengthened Panama’s role as a strategic center for connectivity, logistics, and continental trade.

“Seven decades ago, the plans to make Panama City the most connected city on the American continent and to ensure that Copa Airlines would become a benchmark for the aviation industry, seemed like very distant dreams. Today, with great pride, I can say that thanks to the people who guided the way, the trust entrusted to us by our customers and partners and, of course, to our thousands of collaborators, Copa Airlines has changed the way Latin America flies”, said Pedro Heilbron, CEO of Copa Airlines.

The growth of Copa Airlines during the past 70 years is also due to important alliances that have allowed the Panamanian airline to strengthen its products and business model.

One of the most significant improvements occurred in 1998 when a partnership with Continental Airlines (today, United Airlines) was signed. This association with Continental gave Copa a great advantage in technology, commercial processes, operations, and maintenance.

This partnership was instrumental in listing Copa on the stock market in late 2005 when Continental sold its shareholding.

In 2005, Copa took an important step in its internationalization process with the acquisition of the Colombian airline AeroRepública S.A, now Copa Colombia. Other important steps in its expansion occurred in June 2012, when Copa became part of Star Alliance, the largest network of airlines in the world.

In 2015 — at which time its fleet totaled 100 aircraft — OAG honored it as “The second most on time airline in the world” and Flightstats recognized it as the most on time airline in Latin America. At that time, Skytrax called it the “Best Airline of Central America and the Caribbean” and “The Airline with the Best Cabin Staff and Airports in Central America and the Caribbean”.

As for its modern fleet, which now totals 101 aircraft, starting in August 2018, Copa Airlines will begin to receive its first 737 MAX 9 aircraft. The airline has a total of 71 737 MAX aircraft on order.

Also in 2018, Terminal B of Tocumen International Airport will open. The new terminal will expand the current capacity to 54 connected boarding gates and 12 remote ones. Concourse B will provide new customs and immigration facilities and other services that will solidify the travel experience in Tocumen.

Heilbron concluded by emphasizing that at Copa Airlines “we will continue to work and focus on connecting America in better ways, so that more families can stay together and people can enjoy the wonders of the region; to promote Panama and the communities in which we operate; to help businesses and professionals to prosper, and to ensure that human beings benefit.”

The event was attended by authorities, guilds, collaborators, suppliers and the media, who also witnessed the unveiling of a Boeing 737-800 NG commemorating 70 years of Copa Airlines.

Starting today, the aircraft will sail through the skies of the Americas sporting a livery that reads “Connecting America” and an emblematic design representing 70 years painted on the tail of the aircraft.