Copa Airlines Will Be The First To Resume International 737 MAX Flights

The Panamanian carrier Copa Airlines is set to become the first airline worldwide to operate the Boeing 737 MAX on international routes since the type was grounded in March 2019. According to Copa, it will resume flights with the MAX on January 4, 2021.

Copa Airlines Boeing 737 MAX
Copa Airlines will use its Boeing 737 MAX fleet on international routes. Photo: Felipe Escalona / Aviacion PTY.

Airline by airline, the MAX is coming back

Copa Airlines will be the fourth carrier worldwide to restart commercial operations with the MAX. First, it was GOL Linhas Aereas in Brazil, then Aeromexico in Mexico. We expect American Airlines to operate its first MAX flight on December 29, and Copa Airlines on January 4, according to an announcement by Copa’s CEO, Pedro Heilbron.

Moreover, Copa Airlines became the first non-US carrier to receive a new Boeing 737 MAX since March 2019. It was its seventh MAX 9, and the airline expects to receive one more before the year ends.

In the US, United Airlines expects to operate the MAX again, starting on February 11. Southwest Airlines is already doing some flight tests with its MAX fleet and expects to use it in March.

Elsewhere, it mainly depends on each government recertifying the Boeing narrowbody. Canada will do it in the earlier days of January. The European Union is also finalizing the process.

Copa Airlines Boeing 737 MAX
The airline will fly to the US, Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile. Photo: Felipe Escalona / Aviacion PTY.

Where will it fly?

In the last few days, Copa Airlines has been flying around Panama City with its MAX fleet. The airline was in the final stages of the minimum requirements from the Panamanian Civil Aviation Authority to authorize the safe return of the MAX.

According to Aviacionline, Copa Airlines would deploy its MAX fleet on its longer routes. It plans to operate flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles in the US. In South America, it would fly to Buenos Aires, Montevideo, and Santiago de Chile.

It is interesting to note the South American cities, especially Buenos Aires. For Copa to resume flights to these cities, each government must have recertified the MAX. In Argentina, there’s an airline that also has a Boeing 737 MAX fleet, Aerolineas Argentinas.

While the State Argentinian carrier hasn’t officially announced the MAX return, we can expect information shortly.

GOL Boeing 737 MAX
GOL Linhas Aereas in Brazil was the first airline to operate the MAX after 20 months grounded. Photo: Getty Images

What can passengers expect?

Copa Airlines has a fleet of 74 aircraft: 68 Boeing 737-800 and six Boeing 737 MAX 9. The airline is reducing its size due to the current pandemic. It has already sold its former Embraer fleet, and it is on the same pace with its Boeing 737-700 airplanes.

Therefore, the MAX is the future for Copa Airlines. The airline is eager to receive new airplanes, as we already saw this week. Copa’s MAX airplanes have a capacity for 166 passengers, distributed in three classes. In Economy, there are 126 seats, in Economy Extra 24 seats, and in Dreams Business Class, 16.

The Boeing 737 MAX has a range of 5,700 kilometers, a maximum speed of 1,012 kilometers per hour, and a top flight height of 41,000 feet.

Pedro Heilbron said that the airline has followed a robust training program with its pilots in terms of safety. He added that, since before the MAX crisis, Copa installed additional alert systems throughout its MAX fleet, “allowing our pilots to have a better awareness during the flight.”

Will you soon fly onboard Copa’s Boeing 737 MAX 9? Let us know in the comments.