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Panama’s excellent location, joining North and South America, has made a natural logistic hub for passengers and cargo. Around 27 airlines operate in Panama and every month more companies approach the Civil Aviation Authority (Aeronaútica Civil) for permission to start flying from here.
Panama’s airline COPA (Compañia Panameña de Aviación) has created many alliances with other airlines, with 28 members in their Star Alliance including American Airlines, Lufthansa, Air China and South African Airlines. COPA itself flies to 65 destinations in 29 countries including North, Central, South America and the Caribbean.
COPA’s spectacular success has created what is known as the “Hub of the Americas” at the Tocumen International Airport, which has special schedules designed to create quick connections to avoid lengthy stopovers.
In 2012, COPA announced five new destinations. They are: Las Vegas in the United States, Willemstad in Curacao, Liberia in Costa Rica, Recife in Brazil and Iquitos in Peru. The airline also plans to create new routes to Boston in the United States and another one to Rosario in Argentina.
Europe is an emerging market for Panama. Iberia and KLM have recently increased the frequency of their direct flights and there could be direct flights soon to London. Condor also operates charters to Frankfurt and now Air France flies from Paris.
The Panamanian government has invested in a new north terminal at Tocumen International Airport, doubling the airport’s capacity. A new south terminal has been commissioned. Airports in other provinces such as Chiriqui, Cocle and Colon are also being expanded. The Marcos Gelabert Airport, in Albrook, near Panama City, which caters to domestic and international flights was also a beneficiary of this program.
Economy airlines fly to Panama. Spirit, has applied for a new route from Miami to the International Airport Enrique Malek, in David, in the western province of Chiriqui. Canadian airlines are planning services to the nearly-completed Rio Hato Airport, in the Cocle province, near to the hotel area of the Pacific beaches.