Copa Airlines Adds Another US Route – All By Boeing 737s

Panama’s Copa Airlines has put its next US destination on sale: Atlanta. Starting in December, Atlanta is the full-service carrier’s 14th route to the US. Coincidentally, it comes soon after Delta announced New York JFK to Copa’s Panama City hub. We see what’s happening.

Copa Airlines Boeing 737-8V3 HP-1729CMP
Copa will begin Atlanta on December 12th. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

What’s happening?

Copa Airlines will begin a four-times-weekly service between its Panama City ‘Hub of the Americas’ and Atlanta. Starting on December 12th, the 1,721-mile service will see its 160-seat Boeing 737-800s, with 16 business-class seats and 144 in economy.

The schedule is as follows, with all times local. Note the long layover in the US of about two and a half hours to enable quicker connections over Panama City, utterly vital to the carrier’s existence and success. Especially when it is against multiple non-stops from Atlanta to the Latin American destinations that it is targeting.

  • CM880: Panama City to Atlanta, 09:26-13:37
  • CM881: Atlanta to Panama City, 16:05-20:18

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Copa will have head-to-head competition with Delta on the route with a seven-weekly service, also by 160-seat B737-800s. Launched in 1998, Atlanta had a seat load factor (SLF) of 78.9% in 2019 with 93,932 passengers, Department of Transportation (DOT) data shows. Around 80% transited over Atlanta.

Copa at Panama City
Copa’s Atlanta route will arrive back at 20:18 and feed the most significant number of departures. This figure is for a week in early January. Image: OAG.

Atlanta is Copa’s 14th US destination

The addition of Atlanta means that Copa’s US map now comprises 14 destinations, including San Juan, Puerto Rico. There will be 195 outbound flights in the week that the new route takes off, a respectable 93% of what it had in the same period in 2019, OAG information indicates.

All but two routes will see the B737-800. The exceptions are Los Angeles and San Francisco, long 3,000-mile-plus links solely by the 166-seat B737 MAX 9. Copa now has 13 MAX 9s, each with 16 business seats (fully lie-flat), 24 in economy extra, and 126 in economy.

  • Miami: 42 weekly outbound flights
  • New York JFK: 31
  • Orlando: 28
  • Washington Dulles: 18
  • Los Angeles: 14
  • Chicago O’Hare: 11
  • San Francisco: 10
  • San Juan: 9
  • Boston: 7
  • Fort Lauderdale: 7
  • Tampa: 6
  • Atlanta: 4
  • Denver: 4
  • Las Vegas: 4
Copa's US route map week of December 12th 2021
This is Copa’s US route map in the week of December 12th, 2021. Image: GCMap.

No more New Orleans

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that New Orleans is no longer served, and it doesn’t appear to be coming back. Launched in June 2015, the Louisana route was mainly four-weekly. It initially used the B737-700 before switching to the Embraer 190 and back again to the Boeing, although the larger B737-800 appeared occasionally. Copa has withdrawn the E190 and B737-700.

Copa Embraer 190
The B737-700 and Embraer 190 (as here) had almost all flights to New Orleans. Photo: Alec Wilson via Flickr.

In 2019, Panama City-New Orleans had a SLF of just 62.2% to/from New Orleans, the DOT confirms. According to booking data, approximately 40,000 passengers transited over Copa’s hub, especially to/from the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Brazil, Venezuela, and Costa Rica. Despite being 63% longer than a non-stop, Punta Cana was the largest origin and destination, followed by San Pedro Sula, San Jose, Caracas, and Lima.

Have you flown Copa? Share your experiences in the comments.