Star Alliance member, Copa Airline is to introduce a new link to Belize City before the end of the year meaning it will now serve all seven Central American countries, strengthening its position as one of the region’s leading airlines and its base at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City as the Hub of the Americas.
The new twice weekly link between Panama City and Belize City will be introduced from December 8, 2015 and will be operated using 94-seat Embraer 190 equipment configured with 10 seats in business class and 84 in the main cabin. Following its addition to the Copa Airlines route map, the carrier’s network now covers 75 cities in 31 countries in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.
“Copa Airlines is very pleased to announce this new destination, which strengthens our route network and leadership in the region, and allows us to offer better connectivity and world-class service to all of Central America through the Hub of the Americas in Panama,” said Pedro Heilbron, chief executive officer, Copa Airlines.
Located on the Caribbean Sea, Belize offers a wide variety of tourist attractions and is known for the diversity of its islands and cays, with crystalline waters and white sand beaches. It is considered a scuba divers’ paradise because of its impressive underwater sites, including the famous Great Blue Hole, whose waters reach a depth of up to 145 meters, and the largest coral reef barrier in the Western Hemisphere.
This Central American country is noted for its Mayan influence, the verdant Cayo District in the western part of the country, important archaeological sites such as the Xunantuhich ruins, and the twin cities of Santa Elena and San Ignacio. Other tourist attractions include St. John’s Cathedral, the Government House (House of Culture), the Yarborough Cemetery, the Swing Bridge and the Marine Terminal.
“Copa’s flight through the Hub of the Americas will provide Belize with efficient connections to Central and South America and the Caribbean, areas with which it shares strong commercial, educational, religious, diplomatic and tourist ties,” said Heilbron.
“This connectivity will create enormous opportunities for tourism and commercial development for this interesting Caribbean country, while making it easier for the region’s tourists to enjoy all that Belize has to offer,” he added.
From the Hub of the Americas in Panama, Copa Airlines offers flights to more international destinations than any other airline from any other hub on the continent. The Belize – Panama flight is timed to offer the most convenient connections to Sao Paulo, Brazil; San Jose, Costa Rica; Bogota, Cartagena and Medellin, Colombia; Santiago, Chile; Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador; Managua, Nicaragua; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; Havana, Cuba; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and Lima, Peru.
Belize’s Minister of Tourism Culture and Civil Aviation, Honourable Manuel Heredia Jr said these connections will help support the goal to increase tourism arrivals into Belize, particularly from South America where these is currently limited connectivity. “Copa Airlines will not only supply significant potential markets for Belize, but also offer excellent and competitive linkages to the Caribbean, Central and especially to the South American market,” he said.
Currently, the latter represents less than five per cent of overnight tourist arrivals to Belize, with the biggest barrier being limited accessibility. “As a result, and in keeping with our initiation of strategic and targeted marketing efforts in South America, this partnership could not come at a more opportune time," he added.
Our analysis of Sabre Airport Data Intelligence demand statistics shows that just under 500,000 bi-directional O&D passengers flew internationally between Belize and other countries across the Americas. The largest individual markets were the United States, Canada, Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras. While many of the larger markets across the Americas could sustain direct flights to Belize, most of the 45 markets across North, Central and South America and the Caribbean with passenger flows in and out of Belize last year couldn’t, and the new Copa link will provide one-stop connectivity via Panama City.