The team at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans were in high spirits during Routes Americas at the start of this month. Not only had the airport returned to pre Hurricane Katrina passenger levels in 2014, but it had secured a new international carrier offering significant one-stop options across Central and South America.
The formal announcement was made just days after the conclusion of this year's record-breaking Routes Americas in Denver on February 5, 2015 but Iftikhar Ahmad, director of aviation at the airport, spoke to representatives of the Routesonline team during the event on what the new deal meant for the airport and New Orleans market.
"We have been aggressively pursuing Copa Airlines for almost five years. Their announcement of service is a huge accomplishment for our entire region and will once again link New Orleans to all of Latin America,” he said.
The Panama City-based airline has announced it will begin a new direct service between New Orleans and Panama city, starting June 24, 2015.
The four-times-weekly flights will operate between Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) and the airlines main base in Panama City, and will offer convenient connections to more than 55 destinations in Central and South America.
Operated by Boeing 737-700 aircraft, the service will depart on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from Panama at 18:33pm, arriving into New Orleans at 22:02pm. The return service will depart New Orleans on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 06:55am, arriving at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City at 10:19am.
Pedro Heilbron, CEO, Copa Airlines said: "Copa’s new flight will not only greatly enhance business and leisure travel options between Louisiana and Panama, but also will increase connectivity to more than 55 destinations throughout Latin America.”
The aircraft will be configured with 124 seats – 12 of which will be in Business Class, and the remaining 112 in Economy Class.
"With this new international flight, we open the gateway to the Americas and unleash new economic opportunity for the region’s businesses and tourism industry,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Copa Airlines to our great City.”
New Orleans will be Copa Airlines’ 11th US destination and its 71st overall. The New Orleans region has been one of the largest U.S. markets without nonstop service to Latin America with over 400 passengers daily travelling to the region. New Orleans International Airport is the largest commercial airport within 300 miles and captures over 80% of Louisiana’s enplanements.
Copa has expanded considerably into the US over the past three years, adding services to several new destinations including Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas and Tampa. The airline currently offers services to 70 destinations in 30 countries in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean, and transported more than 11.6 million passengers in 2014.