Copa Airlines

Copa Airlines
Copa Airlines
Founded 1947
Hubs Tocumen International Airport
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program OnePass (Mileage Plus - Early 2012)[1]
Airport lounge Copa Club
Alliance Star Alliance (April 2012)
Fleet size 72
Destinations 59
Company slogan The most direct way to connect with the Americas
Parent company Copa Holdings, S.A.
Headquarters Panama City, Panama
Key people Pedro Heilbron (CEO)
Victor Vial (CFO)

Compañía Panameña de Aviación, S.A., operating as Copa Airlines (CM),[2] is an airline based in Panama City, Panama,[3] and serves as Panama's flag carrier. Its main base of operations is Tocumen International Airport, and the airline operates approximately 180 daily scheduled flights to 59 destinations in 28 countries in North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.[citation needed]




The airline was established as Compañía Panameña de Aviación (hence the acronym COPA) on 21 June 1944 and started operations on 15 August 1947. It was founded by a group of prominent Panamanian investors with assistance from Pan American, which took a 32% stake. It began operations with domestic flights operated by a small fleet of Douglas DC-3 and Douglas C-47 aircraft. The airline started its first international flights in the 1960s when services were inaugurated to cities in Jamaica, Colombia, and Costa Rica. It became wholly Panamanian owned in 1971.

Until the early 1980s, the airline had significant competition from Air Panama, until then, a better known airline to the international public. Copa discontinued its domestic flights in 1979 and acquired its first jet, a Boeing 737-100. It also inaugurated flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico, as well as to the Dominican Republic and Miami, Florida. Thus, the Boeing 737 became the only aircraft in its fleet until the introduction of the Embraer 190 in 2005.

Expansion years

On June 2011, Copa Airlines celebrates 5 years at the New York Stock Exchange.

Expansion continued during the 1990s, when service was started to Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; Bogotá, Colombia; Havana, Cuba; Guayaquil, Ecuador; Lima, Peru; Mexico City, Mexico; Caracas, Venezuela; and many other important Latin American cities.

In 1998, Continental Airlines acquired 49% of the airline, marking the beginning of a comprehensive marketing and operating alliance. On 19 May 1999 Continental increased its stake to 51%. Since then, it has adopted a livery and a corporate logo which are similar to those of Continental in order to represent their alliance, and participates in the OnePass frequent flyer program. However, in connection with the initial public offering in December 2005, Continental reduced its investment from 49% to approximately 27.3% and through a follow-on offering in 2006, Continental further reduced its investment to approximately 10.0%.[4]

In 2000, Copa Airlines inaugurated services to Los Angeles, Cancún, and Orlando, as well as to São Paulo; in 2001 it began serving Quito, Ecuador. In 2004 it began service to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. It also announced in August of that year a code-sharing alliance with Mexico's Mexicana de Aviación, which lasted until 2007.

On 1 June 2005, Copa Airlines announced that it had purchased 90% of the Colombian domestic air carrier AeroRepública, having earlier announced plans to codeshare with them. The airline also announced its plans to make AeroRepública the second largest carrier in Colombia. It plans to increase domestic destinations, modernize its fleet, and initiate the airline's first international destinations. A few days later, Copa Airlines was announced among the four future associate members of SkyTeam alliance, due to join by September 2007.[5]

On 15 December 2005, Copa Holdings, S.A., the parent company of Copa Airlines, launched an IPO of 14 million shares in the New York Stock Exchange thus becoming the fourth Latin American airline to be traded in the exchange, the other three being LAN Airlines of Chile and Brazilian carriers Gol Transportes Aéreos and TAM Airlines (TAM Linhas Aéreas).

In 2006 Copa Airlines announced and began service to six new destinations: Manaus, Brazil, Maracaibo, Venezuela, Montevideo, Uruguay, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic

In addition, Copa Airlines also received 6 Embraer 190 and 2 Boeing 737 and was chosen again as the "Best Airline in Mexico, Central America, and The Caribbean" by Skytrax.

In 2007, Copa Airlines added new destinations to Córdoba, Argentina, Guadalajara, Mexico, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and Washington, D.C., United States

Copa Airlines received 4 Embraer 190 and 2 Boeing 737 (series-800) in 2007 and was chosen as the "Best Airline in Mexico, Central America, and The Caribbean" by Skytrax.

During 2008, Copa Airlines added five new destinations and received 4 Embraer 190 and 1 Boeing 737-800. The new destinations are:Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Valencia, Venezuela, Oranjestad, Aruba and Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

In May 2008, Continental Airlines sold its remaining 4.38 million shares of Copa Airlines for $35.75 a share, for net proceeds of approximately $149.8 million.[6]

That same year, Copa Airlines chief executive Pedro Heilbron on the ALTA airline leaders forum in Cancún said that Copa Airlines has decided to leave the SkyTeam and is in exclusive talks with the Star Alliance.[2]

During 2009, Copa Airlines announced the retirement from SkyTeam (on 24 October 2009), on the same date that its partner Continental Airlines leaves SkyTeam.[7] They added two Boeing 737-800.[8] and announced the firm order for 13 Boeing 737-800 that will come with the new Boeing's signature "Sky Interior".[9]

On 2010, Copa Airlines start service to St. Maarten, received 9 Boeing 737-800 and announced that they will finally join Star Alliance in mid-2012 to meet its old partner, Continental Airlines and become the first Panamanian airline to join Star Alliance.

Also, Copa Airlines and Boeing announced the purchase of 32 Boeing 737-800 planes, set for delivery between 2015 and 2018, with an option to acquire 10 more Boeing 737-800, valued approximately at $1.7 billion. This is the largest plane order in Copa Airlines history.[10]

On June 15, 2011, Copa Airlines start flying to Toronto, Canada, Brasilia, Brazil, Porto Alegre, Brazil, and Nassau, The Bahamas, passed from a 4 bank hub to a 6 bank hub, increasing frecuencies to several destinations and new destinations were announced: Chicago, United States, Cúcuta, Colombia, Montego Bay, Jamaica, Monterrey, Mexico and Asunción, Paraguay.[11][12][13][14]

They also launched they first mobile website, giving their passengers the ability to get their boarding pass in their cellphones (Admitted only at Tocumen International Airport) and announce a new codeshare agreement with TAME, which will be effective from January 2012.

In addition, Copa Airlines became the first airline in Latin America to have the new Boeing 737-800 NG Sky Interior with improved performance in their fleet.

Awards and honors

  • November 2002: Best Regionalization in Latin America Award, PODER Magazine, Booz, Allen & Hamilton and Egon Zehnder International.[15]
  • December 2002: "Tourism without Borders" Award, Federation of Tourism Chambers of Central America.[15]
  • April 2003: "Developing Airline of the Year" Award, AirFinance Journal.[15]
  • April 2004: "Best Airline" in Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean Award, based on the annual World Airline Survey conducted by Skytrax, a British market-survey company.[15]
  • June 2004: Among the 25 Best Employers in Latin America, América Economía magazine.[15]
  • June 2005: "Best Airline" and "Best On-board Service" in Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean Awards, Skytrax.[16]
  • June 2006: "Best Airline" and "Best Cabin Staff" in Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean Awards, Skytrax.[17]
  • October 2006: One of the 10 Best Employers in Latin America, América Economía magazine.[18]
  • August 2009: The Life Achievement Awards, Airline Business magazine.
  • 2010: 2010 Mexico & Central America's Leading Airline, World Travel Awards.
  • 2010: World's Most Sustainable Airline Environmental Award, GREENHORIZON Aviation
  • 2011: 2011 Mexico's and Central America Leading Airline, World Travel Awards.
  • June 2011: fourth place in Leading Companies of 2011, Summa Magazine.


Copa Airlines currently flies to 59 destinations in 28 countries in North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.


The Copa Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft with an average age of 4.8 years:[19]

Copa Airlines fleet
Aircraft In Fleet Orders Passengers
J Y Total
Boeing 737-700 20 0 12 112 124
Boeing 737-800 26 62 14
Embraer E-190 26 0 10 84 94
Total 72 62

Copa Airlines retired fleet
Aircraft In fleet Year Introduced Year Retired Seats
Curtiss C-46 2 1956 1958 44
DC-3 4 1947 1980 32
Convair 240 3 1967 1969 44
Convair 340 3 1967 1969 44
Avro 748 2 1965 1978 48
Lockheed L-188 Electra 3 1971 1986 80
Boeing 727-100 2 1985 1987 123
Boeing 737-100 1 1980 1993 107
Boeing 737-200 13 1988 2005 114
Martin 404 1 1961 1965 40
Copa Airlines was the launch customer of the EMB-190 in Latin America with 26 in their fleet
  • Copa Airlines was the launch customer of the Embraer E-190 in Latin America. The airline also operates the longest scheduled Boeing 737-700 flight in the world between Panama City and Montevideo in Uruguay.
  • The average age of Copa Airlines aircraft is approximately 4.8 years.[8]
  • In October 2004, Copa Airlines announced an order to purchase ten new Embraer E-190 aircraft with options for a further 20 new aircraft. Later the firm orders were increased by exercising five of the options. Six aircraft were delivered in the first quarter of 2007.[4] In June 2007 the airline took delivery of its seventh Embraer E-190 aircraft and is due to receive four more during 2007. The aircraft are configured with 10 seats in Clase Ejecutiva (Business Class) and 84 seats in economy.[20][21][22][23][24]
  • At 31 May 2007, the airline has firm commitments to purchase four Boeing 737-Next Generation(series -800) and ten Embraer E-190, with a list price of approximately $1.1 billion.[4][25]
  • On 30 December 2008, Copa Airlines has announced the firm order for another four Boeing 737-800.[8][26][27]
  • On 16 July 2009, the Panamanian carrier Copa Airlines announced the firm order for 13 Boeing 737-800 that will come with the new Boeing's signature "Sky Interior".[9]
  • On November 30, 2010, Copa Airlines and Boeing announced the purchase of twenty two Boeing 737-800 planes, set for delivery between 2015 and 2018, with an option to acquire ten more Boeing 737-800, valued approximately at $1.7 billion. This is the largest plane order in Copa Airlines history.


During the last 64 years of the airline, Copa Airlines had a lot of liveries during the udpate of their fleet, from the turboprops to the jetliners. Also, they have special liveries in their fleet of Boeing 737 and Embraer 190. In November 2003, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the republic of Panama, Copa Airlines put in their fleet of Boeing 737-700 an announcent of the centennial with the official logo with the picture of the first president of Panama, Manuel Amador Guerrero in the white livery.

A Copa Airlines Boeing 737-200 in the old livery at Las Américas International Airport.

In 2006, a Copa Airlines Embraer 190 had a special livery, because the plane that it was delivered to copa was the 200th Embraer 190 ever produced by the Brazilian plane manufacturer, Embraer. In February 2011, to promote the turism in Panama, the Turism Authority of Panama with the support of Copa Airlines, made a special livery for a Boeing 737-800 of the new fleet with the butterfly logo of Panama and the website "". Actually the new plane with the special livery is flying to other Copa Airlines destinations.

From 1947 to present, Copa Airlines has used the following liveries:

  • Compañia Panameña de Aviación (1947–1961)
  • Vuele Copa (1961–1965)
  • Copa Panama - White livery (1965–1971)
  • Copa Panama - Red lines with white livery (1971–1985)
  • Copa Panama - Red and yellow lines with white livery (1985–1990)
  • "COPA" billboard - Red and yellow lines with white livery and "COPA" logo in the tail. (1990–1999)
  • Copa Airlines - Gold lines with white livery and the well-known blue world globe with white and gold lines design in the tail.(1999–present)

The last livery of the list is currently used by Copa Airlines since 1999 and is recognizable for the plane fans during landings at Tocumen Airport and the rest of the airports around Latin America.


A Copa Airlines Boeing 737-700 at Punta Cana International Airport.
Business Class

When flying in Business Class, customers obtain the following benefits: special check-in at airport counters, leather seats, world-class meals, a large variety of liquors and wines, pillows and blankets (depending on the type and duration of the flight). It provides 3 Panamanian newspapers departing from Panama, bonus miles for all members of the OnePass program, access to all United Club/Copa Airlines Club.

Also private bathroom for business class passengers, and in long-haul flights, a courtesy kit containing toiletry items, hot towels and bottled water will be provided to all Business Class passengers. In the Boeing 737 fleet there is in-flight entertainment, which includes several music radio stations, movies and sitcoms.

Economy Class

In this class, passengers has some of the benefits as in Business class, such as in-flight entertainment in the Boeing 737 fleet (movies, TV sitcoms and listening to music radio stations), hot meals and a wide variety of drink options that can be selected during meals and drink services without any additional cost.

In-flight entertainment

In the Boeing 737 fleet, the airline have an in-flight entertainment system. Copa Airlines select an appropriate movie for all flights from or to Panama and reproduce some TV series (series showing only applies in flights that take 5.5 hours or more). Moreover, the Boeing fleet is equipped with a radio antenna which allows passengers to choose from 12 selected music radio stations and to listen to a wide variety of songs and instrumentals. The airline also provides an inflight magazine (Panorama de las Americas) in which one may find articles related to the airline destinations, world economy, leadership and entrepreneurship, science and technology and many others.


OnePass is Copa Airlines frequent flyer program through partnership with Continental Airlines, offering regular travelers the ability to obtain free tickets, First Class upgrades on flights, discounted membership at airports lounge United Club/Copa Club, or other types of rewards. Customers accumulate miles from flight segments they fly through Copa Airlines, Continental Airlines or other partners. OnePass elite tiers are Silver, Gold, and Platinum Elite which have benefits such as complimentary upgrades, mileage bonus, priority check-in and priority boarding. Copa will phase out the OnePass by December 31, 2011 and will use United's Mileage Plus frequent flyer program.[1]

In addition to its Continental Airlines, Continental Express, Continental Connection, Copa Airlines Colombia, and Star Alliance partnerships, Copa Airlines has frequent flyer partnerships with the following airlines:

Copa Airlines also offers frequent flyer partnerships with the following car rental companies:

OnePass frequent flyer program will end on Dec. 31, 2011. On Jan. 1, 2012, United will automatically enroll OnePass members in Mileage Plus and deposit into Mileage Plus award miles equal to their OnePass award miles balance. OnePass members' 2011 OnePass elite qualifying activity will be recognized fully in their 2012 Mileage Plus elite status.

Copa Club

File:Copa Club.jpg
Logo of Copa Club.

The Copa Club is the membership airport lounge program jointly operated with United and Continental Airlines. Copa Club lounge is located in its hub at Tocumen International Airport, Panama City, Panama. The lounges offer amenities for travelers and members also have access to affiliated lounges around the world. The Copa Club locations in Central America and the Caribbean include Panama City, Panama and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Guatemala City, Guatemala[28]

Codeshare agreements

Copa Airlines has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:
(This list does not include Star Alliance airlines)

Incidents and accidents

  • To date, the only fatal accident involving an aircraft of Copa Airlines occurred on 6 June 1992. At approximately 9 p.m. local time, Flight 201, a Boeing 737-200 registered HP-1205CMP, crashed in the Darien Gap during a flight from Panama City to Cali after an instrument failure, killing the 40 passengers and 7 crew on board. This is the first and only fatal accident in the history of Copa Airlines.
  • A Boeing 737-100 (registered HP-873CMP) was damaged beyond repair on 19 November 1993, when it veered off the runway upon landing at Tocumen International Airport at 19:19 local time following Flight 301 from Miami with 86 passengers and six crew members. The pilots had not managed to properly align the aircraft with the runway because of severe crosswinds, which led to the nosegear being torn off. There were no reported injuries and the plane was written-off.[29]
  • On 7 August 1994, a hijacking attempt occurred on board a Copa flight from Panama City to Guatemala City.[30]
  • On 27 June 2010, a Copa Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft (registered HP-1533CMP) which was parked in a gate of Tocumen International Airport for a flight to Sao Paulo, suffered severe damage to the right engine and part of the right wing when a vehicle owned by the airport crashed on it, because its conductor fell asleep. None of the passengers, crew members and the conductor involved in the incident were injured and the flight to Sao Paulo was changed to another Copa Airlines aircraft. The plane was repaired by Copa's maintenance staff with the support of Boeing inspectors and put back into service.

Popular Culture

In the movie The Tailor of Panama a Copa Airlines 737 is shown.


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ "Terms and Conditions." Copa Airlines. Retrieved on January 31, 2011.
  3. ^ "2008 Annual Report (Form 20-F)." Copa Airlines. 3/182. Retrieved on January 31, 2011. "Avenida Principal y Avenida de la Rotonda, Costa del Este Complejo Business Park, Torre Norte Parque Lefevre, Panama City Panama (Address of Principal Executive Offices)"
  4. ^ a b c "Copa Holdings SA". United States Securities & Exchange Commission Form 20-F. 2007-07-02. Retrieved 2007-07-05. 
  5. ^ La Prensa (In Spanish)
  6. ^ "Copa Airlines says Continental Airlines sold remaining stake in company". Thomson Financial News (Forbes). 2008-05-21. Retrieved 2008-05-31. 
  7. ^ "Copa Airlines leaves Skyteam". 13/05/09. 
  8. ^ a b c "Copa Airlines takes delivery of its # 8 Boeing 737-800". 13/02/09. 
  9. ^ a b "Copa Airlines firms orders". July 2009. 
  10. ^ "Copa Airlines firms orders". November 2010. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b c d e "Copa Airlines Awards/Honours". Copa Airlines - Our History. Archived from the original on 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2007-07-05. 
  16. ^ "World Airlines Awards 2005". Archived from the original on 2007-05-29. Retrieved 2007-07-05. 
  17. ^ "World Airlines Awards 2006". Archived from the original on 2007-07-04. Retrieved 2007-07-05. 
  18. ^ "Copa Airlines Again Named to List of 'Best Employers in Latin America'". RedOrbit. Retrieved 2007-07-05. 
  19. ^ Copa Airlines fleet list at
  20. ^ "Copa Airlines Takes Delivery of Its Seventh Embraer 190". Copa Airlines (UK website). 2007-06-28. Retrieved 2007-07-05. 
  21. ^ "Copa Airlines takes delivery of its # 12 Embraer 190 Embraer 190". 2008-04-14. 
  22. ^ "Copa Airlines takes delivery of its # 13 Embraer 190 Embraer 190". 2008-05-19. 
  23. ^ "Copa Airlines takes delivery of its # 14 Embraer 190 Embraer 190". 2008-10-13. 
  24. ^ "Copa Airlines takes delivery of its # 15 Embraer 190 Embraer 190". 2008-11-17. 
  25. ^ "Copa Airlines takes delivery of its # 7 Boeing 737-800". 2008-06-06. 
  26. ^ "Copa Airlines firm order for four Boeing 737-800". 2008-12-30. 
  27. ^ "Copa Airlines firms orders". September 2008. 
  28. ^ "[1]." United. Retrieved on September 28, 2011.
  29. ^ Flight 301 at the Aviation Safety Network
  30. ^ 1994 hijacking attempt at the Aviation Safety Network

External links

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Portal icon Aviation portal

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