Copa Aims To End 2021 With 15 Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft

The Panamanian carrier Copa Airlines is renewing its fleet and plans to increase its Boeing 737 MAX 9…

Copa Aims To End 2021 With 15 Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft

The Panamanian carrier Copa Airlines is renewing its fleet and plans to increase its Boeing 737 MAX 9 fleet to 15 units before the year ends. At the same time, Copa has been actively retiring and selling its older airplanes, as described by the airline’s management today during the 2021’s first-quarter results investors call.

Copa Airlines expects to end the year with 15 Boeing 737 MAX. Photo: Felipe Escalona/Aviacion PTY.

Copa’s MAX plans

Copa Airlines is one of Boeing’s largest customers in Latin America. The Panamanian airline still has to receive 41 new MAX units, according to Boeing’s website. Unlike many other carriers worldwide, Copa has not reduced the size of its order due to either the MAX crisis or the COVID pandemic.

In the last few months, Copa has been actively receiving new MAX units. It currently has 13 Boeing 737 MAX 9, according to Copa’s management today. In 2021’s first quarter alone, the airline received six new planes.

Pedro Heilbron, Copa’s CEO, said,

“We expect to receive two more 737 MAX 9 in the fourth quarter, which would have us ending the year with a fleet of 83 aircraft.” 

The plan is to have 14 more MAX aircraft by 2023, said Copa in February.

Copa Airlines is increasing its Boeing 737 fleet It already has 68 737-800 like the one in this photo, and 13 737 MAX 9. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Adiós to the Embraers

Alongside this MAX update, Copa Airlines informed about the exit of its former Embraer fleet. Last year, we reported the Australian carrier Alliance Airlines was acquiring the whole Copa Embraer E190 fleet, composed of 14 units.

Copa Airlines has been gradually delivering the E190 planes to its new owner. During the first quarter, four Embraer 190 aircraft exited the fleet, said the airline. As of March 31, 2021, there were four remaining E190 aircraft sold that are expected to leave during the second quarter.

Copa’s current fleet is composed of 81 aircraft, 68 Boeing 737-800, and 13 MAX 9. One year ago, it had a total fleet of 102 airplanes.

Copa Airlines Getty
Copa uses Tocumen International Airport as a connection hub between North and South America. Photo: Getty Images

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Tocumen remains critical to connectivity

During 2021’s first quarter, Copa Airlines had a capacity of approximately 39% of its pre-pandemic levels. The airline carried 924,000 passengers between January and March, a 64.7% decrease compared to 2019.

Copa Airlines faced a complicated scenario due to heavy travel restrictions in Latin America. Pedro Heilbron said,

“The pace of recovery for international travel within Latin America is still significantly hindered by travel restrictions and health requirements. During the first quarter, several countries in the region imposed or were subject to new travel restrictions and health requirements that affected air travel demand.”

Nevertheless, Copa still believes Tocumen International Airport in Panama City is the gateway to success.

The Hub of the Americas will be an even more valuable source of strategic advantage, said Copa Airlines. This is particularly true as fewer intra Latin American markets are able to sustain direct point-to-point services.

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Wingo currently serves 24 routes from Colombia. Photo: Getty Images.

Wingo’s update

Finally, Copa Airlines gave a brief update on the current state of its Colombian branch Wingo.

This carrier had a fleet of four Boeing 737-800 before the pandemic started, said Pedro Heilbron. Since, it has received two more units, increasing its capacity by 50%.

Additionally, Wingo has opened and announced several new routes, like Bogota-Lima, Medellin-Caracas, and Medellin-Cancun.

As of May 2021, Wingo operates 24 routes, mainly domestic. It has an average of 200 flights per week, offering nearly 25,000 seats, according to Cirium’s database.

What do you think about Copa and Wingo’s fleet plan? Let us know in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Police Find Drugs Onboard TAP Airbus A330neo In Venezuela

Venezuelan sniffer dogs foiled a drug run out of Simón Bolívar International Airport in Venezuela this week. The…

Police Find Drugs Onboard TAP Airbus A330neo In Venezuela

Venezuelan sniffer dogs foiled a drug run out of Simón Bolívar International Airport in Venezuela this week. The dogs, along with their handlers from Venezuela’s  Regional Anti-Drug Intelligence Unit, found the haul when inspecting a TAP Air Portugal cargo flight on Wednesday.

Venezuelan authorities grounded a TAP Air Portugal A330 after a drug seizure this week. Photo: Airbus

“Venezuelan police on Wednesday prevented the take-off of a TAP cargo plane, which was supposed to fly between Maiquetía (northern Caracas) and Lisbon, after detecting an undetermined amount of narcotic substances in the aircraft’s fuselage,” says a statement from Safe Communities Portugal, a non-profit crime prevention group. Simple Flying has established the haul was 124 bars of cocaine. The cocaine was found in the crew area of the Airbus.

TAP Air Portugal running regular cargo services to Venezuela

TAP Air Portugal currently operates regular freighter services between Simón Bolívar Airport (Maiquetia) outside Caracas to Lisbon.  Safe Communities Portugal flagged the aircraft as an Airbus A330. TAP Air Portugal has 24 of these planes, 18 of which are currently in service.

Flight tracking website RadarBox.com shows CF-TUF, a TAP Air Portugal A330-900, departed Lisbon for Caracas on Tuesday, May 4, operating as TP9533. The flight landed later that day and was slated to depart on Wednesday. However, following the bust, that flight was cancelled. The Safe Communities Portugal statement says:

“The local authorities are conducting investigations concerning products of a possible narcotic nature, which will have been found, in the cargo hold, during a mandatory civil aviation security control action under the responsibility of the Bolivarian National Guard.”

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Simón Bolívar Airport is a long-established hotspot for illicit drug movements. Photo: Getty Images

Aircraft released after suggestion of seizure

The temporary grounding led to some speculation online Venezuelan authorities would confiscate the TAP Airbus. The Venezuelan Government has previously held onto smaller Portuguese planes seized in other drug busts. But holding onto a commercial Airbus A330 may have proved a little ambitious. RadarBox.com shows CF-TUF was back in the air on Thursday.

There was no suggestion TAP Air Portugal’s crew were involved. Instead, the investigators focused on a sergeant of the Bolivarian National Guard. The unnamed sergeant “fled when the Venezuelan authorities decided to inspect the aircraft.” The inspection was part of a compulsory civil aviation security check. Reports indicate the crew and TAP Air Portugal were cooperating fully with the investigation.

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There was a big drug bust in 2013 involving an Air France flight from Venezuela. Photo: Air France

Cocaine bust continues a long tradition at Simón Bolívar International Airport

Wednesday’s cocaine seizure puts the spotlight back on Venezuela’s biggest international airport. Simón Bolívar International Airport has an established track record as a cocaine export hub. Corruption and a need for hard currencies are key enablers of the trade.

But as this week’s bust indicates, efforts are made to stamp out the illicit trade. However, corrupt elements hinder those efforts. Most spectacularly, French authorities halted a massive 1.3-tonne cocaine importation on an Air France flight in 2013 tied to the Venezuelan military.

“Anyone who has witnessed the elaborate controls the National Guard keeps over every aspect of passenger and bag movements at Simón Bolívar, where woe be onto you if you try to leave the country with two packs of coffee in your bag as souvenirs, knows perfectly well you can’t get ghost bags onto a plane without them knowing about it,” one Venezuelan commentator said online at the time.

A former airline pilot noted that it was relatively unusual for crew areas to be inspected on flights like the TAP Air Portugal cargo service. There is also a suggestion the inspection was the result of information coming from international law enforcement agencies.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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