Louis Armstrong International Airport is adding flights and airlines every day, increasing not only the amount of exotic destinations we can travel to but also the number of jobs available at home. One of the newest additions is Copa Airlines, one of the fastest growing and largest companies in Panama that now has a strong presence in New Orleans. Since January 2015 when Copa first launched in New Orleans, the airline has provided cutting-edge transportation (including a newly purchased Boeing worth nearly $7 billion) that safely flies New Orleanians to Latin America. Read on to learn more about Copa Airlines in a special guest post for NEW ORLEANS WILL.
For years, New Orleans was called the “Gateway to the Americas” and was a key point for trade, tourism and cultural exchange with Latin America. The city has the chance to reclaim that label, now that Copa Airlines has arrived in town.
Copa Airlines began nonstop flights four times weekly between New Orleans and its Hub of the Americas in Panama in June. Copa flight CM 499 departs New Orleans on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 7:01 a.m., arriving in Panama approximately three-and-one-half hours later, at 10:42 a.m.
So, how did a Latin American airline end up in New Orleans?
A Need for Latin American Travel
More than half of the population of the state of Louisiana lives in or within two hours of New Orleans. Yet, until Copa landed on the scene, this area was one of the largest U.S. markets without nonstop service to anywhere in Latin America; business travelers, vacationers or people visiting family and friends had to connect in another U.S. city, and then very likely connect again in Latin America.
Now New Orleans-area travelers can be in Panama in approximately three-and-one-half hours.
And while the Panama Canal, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, is well-known, Panama also offers eco-tourism and a thriving adventure segment, great beaches, five-star hotels, year-round good weather, great coffee and food, colonial architecture, and colorful festivals and folklore, explains Fernando Fondevila, Regional Commercial Manager for North America for Copa Airlines. Panama is also a financial and convention center, as well as headquarters to a growing number of multi-national firms, research centers and international organizations.
At “The Hub of the Americas”
Passengers traveling beyond Panama can make fast, convenient connections at the Hub of the Americas in less than one hour to over 55 destinations throughout Latin America, without having to make immigration or customs stops, and their luggage is delivered to their destination city. Copa’s New Orleans-to-Panama flight is specifically timed for convenient connections to cities in Honduras, Costa Rica, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Ecuador. And, Copa has an on-time performance of 91 percent, one of the best in the industry.
“Our Panama-New Orleans flight has the potential to make a substantial contribution to tourism and economic development between Louisiana, Panama and the rest of Latin America,” says Fondevila. “New Orleans is a vibrant and important U.S. city with strong ties to Latin America, and city officials and business leaders really understand the importance of international air service and connectivity in today’s global economy.”
Copa’s on-board service includes complimentary meals and beverages, including wines and spirits; a multi-channel audio-visual entertainment system in Spanish, English and Portuguese, with new movies monthly and complimentary headsets. The airline operates a Boeing 737-700 Next-Generation aircraft on the flight, with seating for 12 passengers in Business Class and 112 in the main cabin. Flight attendants are bilingual.
“Panama has long been the bridge between America’s civilizations and the connection between continents,” Fondevila says. “At Copa, we’re continuing that legacy as the business and tourism link of the Americas.”