Copa Airlines has chosen 23 destinations that it will fly to and from Tocumen International Airport from June 26, as long as the authorities do not extend the ban on commercial flights first imposed on March 23 and twice extended.
Panama has always been a benchmark for European companies such as AirFrance and Air Europa and they are watching the Copa plans to resume operations
According to Christophe Didier, vice president of sales for Copa Airlines, the original list was made up of 27 destinations, but this week Colombia announced that it extended the ban on all international flights until August 31, forcing Copa to modify its return schedule.
Barranquilla, Bogotá, Cartagena, and Pereira were the Colombian destinations that for now, we will have to wait to see Copa planes arriving.
If there is no further delay in Panama, the first flights will take place on June 26 and 29, and on July 3 that the operation will be daily to the 23 already confirmed destinations.
“In this first stage, the first destinations we would fly to twice would be San José, Costa Rica; and Bogotá, Colombia ”, but with the decision of the authorities of the neighboring country, initially the two frequencies will go to Costa Rican territory.
Although they do not have a definite date to resume their flights to Central America, Antoine Cross, country manager of the KLM-AirFrance air group, said that Panama will be the first market they will open in the region.
"We would operate first in Panama and then in Costa Rica to take advantage of Copa Airlines' network of connections," he said.
The same thought has Air Europa, which on Thursday reported that they plan to return to the Tocumen airport from July 15.
Carlos Conde, commercial manager of Air Europa in Panama and Central America, said that the group based in Madrid would resume flights to Panama with two frequencies a week - Tuesdays and Saturdays - using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner model.
The three executives participated in the virtual discussion organized by the Dutch and French chambers of commerce in Panama.
David Hernández, Central America and Venezuela area manager of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), also participated in the meeting, pointing out that passenger demand in 2021 will be 24% less than that registered in 2019, indicating that the recovery of the sector after Covid-19 will be long.
He points out that the Association does not endorse the suggestion of some sectors to leave a free seat between passengers, because the filtering and air circulation system in the aircraft limits the travel of the particles, in addition, that every 2 or 3 minutes the system injects new air from the outside.
If given the order to leave a free seat between each passenger, rates in the region would increase 50%, since demand will be low and the numbers would be negative for companies, Hernández said.
All participants in the discussion agree that the use of masks will be mandatory when boarding the aircraft and during the trip. In addition, the service on board will be limited, as well as the printed material in order to limit the contact points. IATA estimates that worldwide, Covid-19 will leave losses to the airline sector in the order of $314 billion, while in the region the impact is estimated at $18 billion.
Sure 50% more for air travel to Panama. Still think that tourism is going to blossom? Staycations are all the rage now as people stay at locations within a days drive of their homes. Business travel won't be coming back either as businesses have learned they can cut the cost of airlines by holding meetings and interractions using Zoom and other applications. The new normal will suck if you are in the tourist industry in a shithole country like Somalia or Panama.