Connecting the World on TimeThu, 12/01/2016 - 12:20
Copa Airlines has a mission. It wants to connect the world through Panama’s Hub of the Americas, and to do it on time. The airline, already recognized for its punctuality and modern fleet, considers Mexico to be central to its strategy.
Targeting Mexico is an opportunity that needs to be seized, says Mauro Arredondo, General Manager of Copa Airlines. “The increasing global importance of the country and its geographically diversified touristdestinations made it a high-priority market that needed to be attended,” he says, adding that the relationship is mutually beneficial.
A key to its success and increasingly wide reach is the Star Alliance network. Copa’s membership in the alliance of 28 airlines gives it access to 1,330 airports in 192 countries, with a scope of 18,500 flights daily. It covers almost the entire world, falling just short of the UN’s 206 listed countries. Rapid growth for the five founding members in 1997 to 28 in less than 20 years is proof of the program’s success and acceptance, says Arredondo. Through the Star Alliance, Copa Airlines can offer flights to almost the entire world. The airline operates directly to 77 different destinations in 31 countries with the help of its subsidiary Copa Airlines Colombia.
Copa’s quality service helped win the airline FlightStats’ recognition as the most punctual operator in Latin America for the third consecutive year, as well as the Official Airline Guide’s acknowledgement as the secondmost punctual airline in the world, both in 2015.
The commitment displayed by Copa to its customers, collaborators and the environment has earned it several awards. In July 2016, the airline took three Skytrax awards: Best Regional Airline in Central America/Caribbean, Best Airline Staff in Central America/Caribbean and Best Airline in Central America/Caribbean. In August 2016 Copa was recognized by the company CFM International as the airline with the most reliable flying engines on the continent.
Copa Airlines’ passenger experience is not solely reliant on its punctuality, says Arredondo. “It is a combination of the airline’s commitment to its collaborators and passengers to always offer a world-class product, regardless of the flight destination,” he says. Among the amenities offered by Copa is an inflight service that includes complimentary food and beverages, a three-language entertainment system and bilingual or trilingual flight attendants.
Customer loyalty is rewarded through membership to the Connect Miles program, allowing users to accumulate corresponding miles from their flights either with Copa Airlines or with other members of the Star Alliance program. It also grants access to VIP departure lounges in the Copa Club sites in Tocumen, Santo Domingo, Guatemala, San Jose and Medellin, as well as access to the same VIP lounges of associated airlines.
Arredondo points out that customer service is only one facet of the airlines success, complemented by one of the most modern fleets in Latin America. Its fleet of 100 aircraft consists of 14 Boeing 737-700, 63 Boeing Next Generation 737-800 and 23 Embraer 190 AR. In 2015, the company announced the decision to purchase 61 new 737 MAX 8 and 9 from Boeing. The acquisition has a total value of US$6.6 billion and deliveries will begin in 2018. Some of the aircraft are destined to replace older planes, while others will be expansions to Copa’s fleet.
Copa will be the first airline in the region to operate the Boeing 737 MAX 9. Copa was also the first Latin American airline to incorporate winglets on its planes. In 2014, the airline began the installation of the Split Scimitar winglet on 18 of its Boeing 737-800 planes. These particular winglets have a curved fin shape that increases fuel efficiency even more than a traditional winglet and will reduce fuel use by 1.7 percent. The airline expects that by 2018 a total of 55 aircraft will be equipped with the Split Scimitar.
Throughout the years, Copa Airlines has confirmed its commitment to clients, its employees and the world over and over again, according to Arredondo. The airline operates directly to 77 different destinations in 31 countries with the help of its subsidiary Copa Airlines Colombia. Increasing operations throughout the continent and the inclusion of new destinations add to the company’s goal of connecting countries through the Hub of the Americas.