Tampa International Airport and Copa Airlines Announce Nonstop Service to Panama

July 17, 2013

TAMPA - Copa Airlines {NYSE: CPA} announced today it will begin nonstop service from Tampa to Panama beginning Dec. 17. Tampa will be Copa’s ninth U.S. destination and its 66th destination overall.

“Copa Airlines is very pleased to offer the first direct nonstop service between Panama and Tampa Bay, a city with strong commercial ties to Panama, numerous corporate headquarters, a growing Hispanic population, and several academic institutions popular with Latin American students,” said Joe Mohan, Senior Vice President, Commercial and Planning, Copa Airlines. “With Copa’s new nonstop service from Tampa to Panama, passengers will be able to make convenient connections at the Hub of the Americas throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Copa Airlines will operate a Boeing Next-Generation 737-700 with 12 business class seats and 112 in the main cabin on the four-times-weekly flights to Panama. The flight will depart Tampa at 7:02 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, arriving at Copa’s Hub of the Americas in Panama at 10:12 a.m. The return flight will depart Panama on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 6:34 p.m., arriving in Tampa at 9:53 p.m. Copa’s Tampa-Panama flight offers optimal connections to several cities in Brazil and Colombia, San Jose, Costa Rica; Caracas, Venezuela; Guatemala; Buenos Aires; Lima, Peru; and Guayaquil and Quito, Ecuador, among others.

“This is a huge win for the Tampa Bay region, opening an easy connection for business and leisure travelers to all of Latin America,” said Joe Lopano, CEO of Tampa International Airport. “Our success in recruiting Copa is the result of tremendous cooperation with our community partners, who helped us make a compelling business case for this market to one of the world’s most successful airlines.”

“Our board of directors recruited Joe Lopano in part to grow nonstop international flights to the Tampa Bay region, and I applaud him for bringing together a team that’s creating a true global gateway at this airport,” said Robert Watkins, chairman of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority Board of Directors. 

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a member of the Aviation Authority board, traveled to Panama with airport officials in early 2011 to begin the dialogue with Copa. 

“As Mayor, I’ve made building our city’s international links a priority,” Buckhorn said. “Copa will open up many opportunities for Latin American visitors and business investment to our community and their flights will be a catalyst for economic growth for years to come.” 

Working with Tampa International Airport officials to attract Copa were Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Visit Tampa Bay, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the Tampa Hillsborough County Economic Development Corporation and the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. 

“We were thrilled to partner with the airport on a recent survey of business traffic to Latin America. Nearly 250 companies responded with enthusiastic support for nonstop flights, underscoring the need for this type of service in our community,” said Bob Rohrlack, president and CEO of the chamber.

Rick Homans, President and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, said he’s especially proud of the business recruitment plan the EDC has put together to build even more links between Tampa and Latin America.

“At the EDC, it’s our job to join efforts with Copa to make this new flight a success,” Homans said. “More than 60 percent of businesses that participated in the Latin America Business Survey said they would conduct more business in Latin America if there was nonstop service to Tampa.”

“Opening up Central and South America via brand-new Copa service is a real game-changer for the entire Tampa Bay area,” said D.T. Minich, executive director of Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater. “The growth potential for this market is huge, and we’re prepared to nurture this market like we have done with our European offices over the years.” 

Santiago Corrada, president and CEO of Tampa Bay & Company, said that his organization’s efforts to attract conference planners and organizers from around the world will also benefit from the new service.

“Together as a team, we will sell our destination in Latin America,” Corrada said. 

From its Hub of the Americas in Panama, Copa offers flights to more international destinations than any other airline from any other hub in the Latin American region. In-transit passengers making connections do not have immigration/customs waits and baggage is checked to the final destination.

The airline operates one of the youngest and most modern fleets in the industry and its on-time performance above 90 percent is among the best worldwide. A member of the Star Alliance, Copa Airlines has a commercial alliance with United Airlines, including participation in the MileagePlus frequent-flyer program, joint operation of the Copa Club in Panama and select codeshare flights. Established in 1947, Copa transported more than 10 million passengers in 2012. Copa was just named “Best Airline in the Central America and Caribbean region” at the Skytrax World Airline Awards.

Copa’s on-board service includes complimentary meals and beverages, including wines and spirits; a 12-channel audio-visual entertainment system in English, Spanish and Portuguese, with new movies monthly and complimentary headsets. Flight attendants are bilingual. Copa’s website, copa.com, is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese; passengers may purchase tickets in U.S. dollars, as well as 10 other currencies.

About Copa Airlines

Copa Airlines and Copa Airlines Colombia, subsidiaries of Copa Holdings, S.A. {NYSE: CPA}, are leading Latin American providers of passenger and cargo services. The airlines provide service to 65 destinations in 29 countries in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean, operating one of the youngest and most modern fleets in the industry, consisting of 86 aircraft: 60 Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft and 26 Embraer-190s. From the U.S., Copa Airlines offers nonstop service to Panama from Miami, New York City (JFK), Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. (Dulles), Orlando, Chicago (O’Hare), Las Vegas and Boston. For more information, visit www.copa.com.

Share This: