DALLAS — Star Alliance member Copa Airlines recently unveiled its 2023 expansion plans, centering on bolstering the Hub of the Americas, its main hub for connections in the region, by expanding its network of destinations and flight frequencies as well as expanding and upgrading its aircraft fleet.
Copa confirmed via a press release the recent addition of 15 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, a US$2.1bn investment, to its most recent order as part of its 2023 fleet upgrade plans. These aircraft are an addition to the current order from 2015 and should arrive within the next five years.
The airline anticipates receiving six more Boeing 737-9s in 2023, bringing its current fleet to a total of 99 aircraft —32 Boeing 737-9s, 58 Boeing 737-800NGs, and nine Boeing 737-700NGs. This means the carrier will not take delivery of any Boeing 737-10s.
The airline also has plans to upgrade the Latin American Aviation Academy’s (ALAS) training fleet by purchasing eight brand-new Diamond DA40/42 aircraft. The aircraft will be outfitted with state-of-the-art technology to help speed up learning while maintaining the highest levels of safety. The airline notes that these eco-friendly aircraft use up to 50% less fuel than the ones they are replacing.
Additionally, the Panamanian flag carrier disclosed the purchase of a fifth Boeing 737 MAX flight simulator to upgrade its pilot training program as it is directly related to its 2023 expansion plans.
Bolstering Connectivity in Panama
Copa Airlines anticipates an 11% increase in passengers in 2023 compared to 2022. As a result, it will launch three new summer destinations in 2023, including Manta in Ecuador and Baltimore and Austin in the United States, for a total of 80 destinations across 33 countries in the Americas.
Manta begins on June 30 with three weekly flights, Baltimore commences on July 1 with four weekly frequencies, and Austin starts on July 6 with four weekly frequencies: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
The airline’s greater international connectivity than other regional hubs gives Panama a competitive edge. The Hub of the Americas complements airlines’ flights to the Central American nation thanks to its exceptional connectivity, which plays a strategic role in the nation’s economy.
By taking advantage of their layover in the city as a result of the “Panama Stopover” program, 261,000 visitors have entered the nation since 2019; another 115,000 are expected to do the same by the end of 2023.
“Copa Airlines has been investing in Panama for more than 75 years, which has helped us become the leading airline in the region, turning the Hub of the Americas® into Latin America’s preferred connection by facilitating connectivity and contributing to boosting the economic, social, and tourism sectors of both Panama and Latin America. To remain sustainable and thrive in the current complex and competitive environment, the airline seeks to boost its growth, generate jobs, and increase our direct contributions to the country’s economy,” said Pedro Heilbron, Chief Executive Officer at Copa Airlines.
Featured image: Copa Airlines HP9913CMP Boeing 737-8 MAX. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways