WORLD ROUTES: Copa Airlines Helps Drive Panama’s Economy

Central American carrier Copa Airlines is a good example of an airline that showcases the benefits of a hub operation in a market that only has limited point-to-point traffic potential.  The carrier, originally launched in the late 1940s, has since the early 1990s developed its base airport, Tocumen International Airport as the ‘Hub of the Americas’ providing connecting traffic options between North America and Central and Latin American markets.

The carrier now serves more than 65 destinations across 29 countries in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean after having an aggressive development strategy that has regularly seen double digit year-on-year capacity growth.  The airline is now “tapering down” its growth for 2013, according to Joseph Mohan, vice president commercial and planning, Copa Airlines and after launching routes to Iquitos, Peru; Las Vegas, USA; Liberia, Costa Rica; Recife, Brazil and Willemstad, Curacao in 2012 has added just two new destinations in 2013: Boston and Tampa, the latter launching in December.

“We are looking more at frequency development right now,” Mohan told The HUB during an interview at the recent World Routes forum in Las Vegas, USA.  “We continue to focus on enhancing connectivity to underserved markets but are looking to grow many of our existing routes.  Cancun, Miami and Rio have all seen additional flights this past year.”

The airline remains on look out for new markets that have limited or no existing connectivity across the Americas.  “We have proved our business model works.  We have been able to combine high growth with healthy profit margins,” Mohan explained, highlighting that good business support from the Panamanian Government has helped the carrier’s strategy.  “They understand business and its value.  Around five per cent of the country’s GDP comes directly from our airline.  It is important that is not lost on our friends at the government,” he added.

You can hear more about latest developments at Copa Airlines in our World Routes video interview with Joseph Mohan, vice president commercial and planning, Copa Airlines, below.

Copa Airlines - Joseph Mohan, Vice President Commercial and Planning.

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