Copa Airlines
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Copa Airlines
Copa airlines logo.svg
IATA
CM ICAO
CMP Callsign
COPA
Founded June 21, 1944
Commenced operations August 15, 1947
Hubs
Tocumen International Airport (Panama City)
Focus cities
El Dorado International Airport
La Aurora International Airport
Juan Santamaría International Airport
Augusto C. Sandino International Airport
Frequent-flyer program MileagePlus
Airport lounge Copa Club (in partnership with United)
Alliance
SkyTeam (associate member 2007–2009)
Star Alliance
Subsidiaries Copa Airlines Colombia
Fleet size 97
Destinations 69
Company slogan Connected, everything is possible
Parent company Copa Holdings, S.A.
Headquarters Panama City, Panama
Key people Pedro Heilbron (CEO)
Jose Montero (CFO)
Revenue Increase US$2,249 million (FY 2012)[1]
Operating income Increase US$402,5 million (FY 2012)[1]
Net income Increase US$326.4 million (FY 2012)[1]
Website www.copa.com
Compañía Panameña de Aviación, S.A., (NYSE: CPA), operating as Copa Airlines,[2] is an airline based in Panama City, Panama,[1] and serves as Panama's flag carrier. Its main base of operations is Tocumen International Airport, and in 2013 the airline carried 11.345 million passengers on more than 326 daily scheduled flights to 69 destinations in 30 countries in North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Copa is a subsidiary of Copa Holdings, S.A. as well as a member of the Star Alliance.[3] The airline is also the main operator and owner of Colombian airline AeroRepublica, currently known as Copa Airlines Colombia.

Copa Airlines was founded in 1947 as the national airline of Panama. It began operations with domestic flights to three cities in Panama using Douglas DC-3s. Copa Airlines then abandoned its domestic flights in favor of international flights. In 1998, Copa formed a strategic partnership with Continental Airlines, replacing its own livery and adopting the OnePass frequent flyer program, later replaced by MileagePlus.[4] The airline operates a fleet of 92 aircraft, mostly Boeing 737 NGs used on most international flights and a smaller fleet of Embraer E-190 for regional flights.

As of 2013, the airline employed over 9,000 people, most of them residing in Panama and was one of the fastest growing companies in the country. It is headed by Chief Executive Officer Pedro Heilbron.[5]

Contents [hide]
1 History
1.1 Inauguration
1.2 Expansion years
2 Awards and honors
2.1 2000's
2.2 2010's
3 Destinations
4 Fleet
5 Liveries
6 Services
6.1 Business Class
6.2 Economy Class
6.3 In-flight entertainment
7 MileagePlus
8 Copa Club
9 Codeshare agreements
10 Incidents and accidents
10.1 Hijackings
11 In popular culture
12 See also
13 References
14 External links
History[edit]
Inauguration[edit]
The airline was established as Compañía Panameña de Aviación (hence the acronym COPA) 21 June 1944, and started operations 15 August 1947. It was founded by a group of prominent Panamanian investors with assistance from Pan American World Airways, who took a 32% stake. It began operating domestic flights with a small fleet of Copa Airships B1 and Copa Airships B2 aircraft. The airline started its first international flights in the 1970s with service to cities in Jamaica, Colombia, and Costa Rica.

Until the early 1980s, the airline had significant competition from Air Panamá Internacional, which had a higher profile. Copa discontinued domestic flights in 1979 and acquired its first jet, a Boeing 737-100. Today, the airline operates flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico, as well as to the Dominican Republic and Miami, Florida. The Boeing 737 was the only aircraft in the carrier's fleet until the introduction of the Embraer 190 in 2005.

Expansion years[edit]

A Copa Airlines Lockheed L-188 Electra at La Aurora International Airport in 1980.
Expansion continued during the 1990s, when it began service 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 1992, Copa signed a strategic alliance with El Salvador-based TACA Airlines, and Copa began flying from Tocumen International Airport, making it the first flight connection center in Latin America. As a consequence, Tocumen airport became the "Hub of the Americas" and the integration of several Latin American airlines to the alliance, such as LACSA of Costa Rica, Aviateca of Guatemala, and NICA of Nicaragua. The alliance ended in 1998 after the six-year agreement expired.

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, Copa has adopted a livery and corporate logo similar to Continental's (now United's). Copa participated in the OnePass frequent flyer program until Continental's merger with United. In connection with the initial public offering in December 2005, Continental reduced its investment to approximately 27.3% and through a follow-on offering in 2006, further reduced it to approximately 10%.[1]


More than half of Copa's aircraft fleet consists of Boeing 737 aircraft. Pictured; a Boeing 737-800.
In 2000, Copa Airlines inaugurated service to Los Angeles, Cancún, and Orlando, as well as to São Paulo; in 2001, it began service to Quito, Ecuador. In 2004, it began service to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. Copa 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 purchased 90 percent of the Colombian domestic air carrier AeroRepública, having earlier announced a codeshare plan with the carrier. Copa rebranded AeroRepública to Copa Airlines Colombia, increased destinations and modernized the fleet.

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

In 2006, Copa Airlines 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 took delivery of six Embraer 190s and two Boeing 737s.

In 2007, Copa Airlines added service to Córdoba, Argentina; Guadalajara, Mexico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and Washington, D.C..

Copa Airlines added four Embraer 190s and two Boeing 737s (series-800).


A Copa Airlines E-190 in Brazil.
During 2008, Copa Airlines added five new destinations and received four Embraer 190s and one 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, yielding a net profit 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 had decided to leave SkyTeam and were in exclusive talks with Star Alliance.[7]

In 2009, Copa Airlines announced it would withdraw from SkyTeam 24 October, the same date that partner Continental Airlines left SkyTeam.[8] The company added two Boeing 737-800s.[9] and announced a firm order for 13 Boeing 737-800s with the new Boeing signature "Sky Interior".[10]

In 2010, Copa Airlines began service to St. Maarten, received nine Boeing 737-800s and announced that it would join Star Alliance in mid-2012 to rejoin old partner Continental (now United) Airlines and become the first Panamanian airline to join Star Alliance.

Also in 2010, 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 ten more Boeing 737-800, valued approximately at $1.7 billion. This was the largest plane order in Copa Airlines' history.[11]


On June 2012, Copa Airlines became one of the first Latin America airlines to enter to the Star Alliance.
In 2011, Copa Airlines began service to Toronto; Brasilia and Porto Alegre, Brazil; Chicago; Cúcuta, Colombia; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Monterrey, Mexico and Asunción, Paraguay;[12][13][14][15] and Nassau, The Bahamas. It also passed from a four bank hub to a six bank hub and increased frequencies to several destinations.[clarification needed]

That same year, the company launched its first mobile website (m.copaair.com), giving passengers the ability to get a Mobile Pass, check flight status and other services. Additionally, Copa announced a new codeshare agreement with TAME, which became effective in January 2012.

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

In 2012, the company announced five new destinations: Las Vegas, United States; Recife, Brazil; Willemstad, Curaçao; Liberia, Costa Rica; and Iquitos, Peru.[16][17]

Copa also increased flight frequencies to several destinations and inaugurated an interline agreement with Air Panama (Panama's second-largest airline) which consists of the linkage of all tourist destinations in Panama with those in Latin America. The agreement became effective 1 June 2012, when Air Panama began flights from Tocumen airport to Isla Colón, Bocas del Toro.[18]

In 2013, Copa increased the frequency to several destinations and included two new destinations in the United States: Boston and Tampa.[19][20]

Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) announced 10 October 2013, that Copa Airlines placed an order to retrofit some of its existing Boeing Next Generation 737's Blended Winglets with APB's new Split Scimitar Winglet, as part of its environmental strategy. The new APB winglet technology will save Copa more than $21 million in jet fuel costs fleet wide and more than 63,000 tons of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) output per year.[21]

In January 2014, Copa Airlines announced three new destinations and revealed its business strategy for the year, which included the delivery of eight new Boeing 737-800 aircraft and the increase of frequencies to some destinations. The new destinations are Montreal, Canada; Fort Lauderdale, United States and Georgetown, Guyana.[22] In July, it added Campinas, Brazil; and Santa Clara, Cuba.[23]

In April 2014, Copa Airlines became the first airline in Latin America and the third in the world to implement the Split Scimitar Winglets on its Boeing 737 NG fleet

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