REGIONAL REPORT: COPA AIRLINES The 737 forms the backbone of the Copa Airlines fleet. This aircraft is the -800 series. The airline will be receiving its 737 MAX aircraft order in 2018
n January 19, officials from Copa Airlines broke ground at Tocumen International Airport on a new Center of Specialized Technical Maintenance set for completion in the second quarter of next year. By that time, the airline will be in the midst of a busy delivery schedule that will see more than 60 737 MAX aircraft set to arrive during 2018. “With these new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, our customers will enjoy the benefits of the best technology available in the market,” said Gustavo Vargas, Communications Director at Copa Airlines. “This order represents an important step toward strengthening Copa Airlines’ leadership in the region, while allowing us to improve our world-class service and expand our network through the Hub of the Americas in Panama City.” However, the airline is currently building its fleet. At the beginning of this year Copa took delivery of a 737-800 Next Gen-
The Hub of the Americas Airport in Panama City
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Panama’s flag carrier is preparing for a big year, with a major 737 delivery schedule set for 2018 by RICK LUNDSTROM
eration aircraft, while another is scheduled to arrive this spring. In addition to building its route structure, Copa is reaching out to another passenger group with a low cost carrier called Wingo, and adding a new destination in Cuba. Copa has invested US$15 million in the new maintenance center at Tocumen. It will allow the carrier to simultaneously conduct maintenance on three 737s and an Embraer 190. In addition to its major maintenance capabilities, Copa plans to use the facility for winglet installations, landing gear replacement, aircraft painting and other specialized technical work. The airline currently has a fleet of 100 aircraft of two varieties, 79 737 Next Generations and 21 Embraer 190s. The new center “brings to Panama the majority of the specialized technical maintenance that Copa today handles outside the country,” said Ahmad Zamany, Copa Airlines’ Vice President of Technical operations.
A total of 38 aircraft in the airline’s fleet are in a two-class configuration and outfitted with with leather seating, according to the Copa Airlines website. The Business Class cabin offers a range of comfort items, a frequently updated wine list and a new rum is featured each month. Last summer, Copa Airlines opened up a new route to Holguin, Cuba, the country’s fourth largest city. The new destination adds to the commitment the airline has to the country. Copa first flew to Cuba with three weekly flights starting in 1995.
Copa launched Wingo, based on Bogota, Colombia in December 2016 with a fleet of four 737-700s. It currently operates flights to 16 destinations has a classic tiered fare and service structure common to low-cost carriers around the world. “With Wingo, we want to serve those who want to fly well at low prices,” said Vargas. “We want to be a low-priced good quality alternative for those who fly for the first time and for those who want to travel more but cannot afford it.” The airline’s fare structure gives passengers six options to personalize the flight experience. With extra payment they can choose from airport check-in, express lines at check-in, checked baggage. Pets, musical instruments and sports equipment are a separate charge along with food and beverage, seat assignments and the “Wingo Experto” seat, which has extra pitch. Passengers are allowed to carry on one personal item of up to six kilograms and one piece of hand luggage up to 10 kilograms without charge.