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Copa Airlines celebrates 70 years of connecting the Americas

  • Copa Airlines marks seven decades of continuous growth and progress—from its earliest beginnings, when it flew between two cities in Panama, to its current status as one of the leading airlines in the Americas

  • Since establishing the Hub of the Americas in Panama 25 years ago, Copa Airlines has grown to connect an extensive network of 75 destinations in 31 countries across North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean, reinforcing Panama’s status as a strategic center and regional leader in connectivity and logistics

  • Over the course of its 70-year history, Copa Airlines’ remarkable achievements have made it a standard-setter for service and on-time performance in the global aviation industry

Panama City, August 24, 2017.

Boeing 737 Max 10

Copa Airlines, a subsidiary of Copa Holdings, S.A. {NYSE: CPA} and a member of the Star Alliance global network, celebrated its 70-year history with a special event that was held in the airline’s maintenance hangar. Attendees at the event looked back on how, in 1947, a group of entrepreneurial, forward-looking Panamanians joined forces with Pan Am to establish Copa Airlines. Initially, the airline provided domestic service within Panama, connecting the capital to two other cities.


Now, 70 years later, Copa Airlines offers the most extensive route network in Latin America, connecting a total of 75 destinations in 31 countries throughout North, Central, and South America. This continuous growth has largely been made possible by the success of the Hub of the Americas, which has made Tocumen International Airport into Latin America’s leading hub, while also reinforcing Panama’s status as a strategic center for connectivity, logistics, and trade in the Americas.


“Seven decades ago, it seemed a very distant dream to think that Panama City would become the most connected city in the Americas, and that Copa would be a standard-setter in the aviation industry. Today, I am very proud to be able to say that—thanks to the individuals who led the way, the trust of our customers and partners, and, of course, our thousands of employees—Copa Airlines has changed how people fly in Latin America,” said Copa Airlines’ CEO Pedro Heilbron.

Copa Airlines’ growth over the past 70 years is also the result of key partnerships, which have enabled the airline to enhance its services and strengthen its business model. The most important of these partnerships was formed in 1998, when Copa partnered with Continental Airlines (which has since merged with United Airlines). By partnering with Continental, Copa made great progress in numerous areas, including technology, business processes, operations, and maintenance. This partnership also led Copa Airlines to become a publicly-traded company in late 2005, when Continental sold its stake and Copa joined the New York Stock Exchange.

That same year, Copa took an important step in its international expansion when it acquired the Columbian airline AeroRepública S.A., now known as Copa Colombia. Other important steps in Copa’s expansion occurred in June 2012, when it joined the Star Alliance, the world’s leading airline network, and in 2015, when Copa’s fleet grew to 100 aircraft. Also in 2015, Copa was recognized as “the world’s second most on-time airline” by OAG, and as the top airline in Latin America by Flightstats. Copa was also named the “Best Airline in Central America and the Caribbean,” as well as the “Airline with the Best Cabin Crews and Airport Staff in Central America and the Caribbean,” by Skytrax.

Today, Copa Airlines boasts a modern fleet that includes 101 aircraft, and in August 2018, it will begin receiving its first 737 MAX 9 aircraft. Ultimately, its fleet will include 71 total 737 MAX 8, 9, and 10 aircraft. Also in 2018, Terminal B will open at Tocumen International Airport, bringing the airport’s total number of boarding gates to 54 contact gates and 12 remote gates. New immigration and customs processing facilities and other services will also be inaugurated, enhancing the travel experience for passengers at Tocumen.

Heilbron concluded his remarks by emphasizing that at Copa Airlines, “we will continue to work and focus on connecting the Americas still further—helping more families stay close, enabling more people to discover the region’s wonders, contributing to the development of Panama and of the communities we serve, helping businesses and professionals thrive, and benefiting everyone.”

The event was attended by officials, union representatives, employees, suppliers, and members of the media. They also witnessed the unveiling of a Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft that will commemorate Copa Airlines’ 70th anniversary as it flies the skies of North, Central, and South America. The aircraft’s fuselage is emblazoned with the words “Connecting the Americas,” and its tail is painted with a special design honoring the airline’s 70-year history.