Delta Air Lines Targets Panama In New Winter Expansion

Travelers looking to visit Panama this winter will have even more options on Delta Air Lines. The carrier will be adding three new cities to its network from Panama City – Los Angeles, New York, and Orlando – while adding an incremental flight from Atlanta. All of these flights will start in time for the December holiday period and target mostly a leisure-oriented traveler base.

Delta Air Lines Targets Panama In New Winter Expansion
Delta is adding three new routes to Panama this winter. Photo: Getty Images

Delta adding three new routes to Panama

Starting on December 18th, Delta will add new flying to Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport (PTY) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Orlando International Airport (MCO) from December 18th. A third route from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to PTY will launch on December 20th. Also, on December 18th, a second Saturday flight from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) will start to Panama.

Flights from Los Angeles and Orlando will operate once per week. Flights from LAX will run onboard 199-seat Boeing 757-200s. Meanwhile, Orlando flights will run on 180-seat Boeing 737-900ERs. JFK service will operate on 160-seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft three times per week, increasing to four weekly flights from March 2022. Atlanta will see eight weekly flights onboard Boeing 737-900ERs.

Delta Air Lines Targets Panama In New Winter Expansion
Delta’s Panama City network this December. Rendering created at Great Circle Mapper

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A leisure-focused expansion

Luciano Macagno, Delta’s Managing Director – Latin America, Caribbean and South Florida, stated the following on the new routes:

“From its breathtaking beaches and vibrant culture to its competitive economy in Latin America, Panama is a highly sought destination for business and leisure travelers alike. With our new direct flights from our L.A. and JFK hubs that offer significant U.S. connectivity, as well as the demand from the local Orlando community, we’re looking forward to introducing Delta’s signature hospitality and exceptional onboard experience to more customers planning their next trip.”

With these new routes, Delta will be offering its largest schedule to Panama since launching flights to the country in 1998. The new flights and increased services will have Delta operating 80% more capacity compared to December 2019.

Delta’s Saturday-based flying is more about connecting leisure travelers and visiting friends and relatives (VFR) traffic. However, Delta will also be offering some connections out of Los Angeles and Orlando. Customers transiting through LAX can connect onward to 48 US cities, while JFK will offer 46 onward connections across the US.

Delta Boeing 757
LAX-PTY will be operated on a Boeing 757. Photo: Getty Images

Orlando is an interesting city in Delta’s network. The airline has a history of flying some point-to-point services. In addition to all of Delta’s hubs, Cincinnati and Raleigh also receive service to Orlando. Previously, Delta served Amsterdam from Orlando and São Paulo, though it cut Brazil service before the crisis hit.

The recovery continues

The recovery continues. Delta turned a profit in the third quarter and it is starting to bring back capacity. However, this expansion shows that leisure travel is still going to be important. Once-weekly flights are conducive to travelers who are looking for a longer getaway rather than a quick trip to meet a client or attend to some business.

Corporate volume was about 40% recovered in the third quarter. Domestic business has been recovering ahead of general corporate volumes, but the fourth quarter will be key for the ongoing recovery in business travelers.

Delta’s 13 weekly flights to Panama is not a lot of exposure. American is expecting to fly three daily roundtrips from Panama City to Miami this winter. United is expecting to fly up to two daily roundtrips to PTY each from Houston and Newark. In Central America, Delta has been a little weak compared to other airlines. Not to mention, PTY is a hub for Copa Airlines, so there will be plenty of competition. In response to Delta’s JFK-PTY expansion, Copa will be adding a new route to Atlanta.