Copa Airlines to spend USD600 million on increasing its fleet
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Copa Airlines: returning to positive unit revenue as its crucial LCC transition in Colombia begins
Cautious optimism exhibited by Copa Airlines at the end of 2Q2016 that challenging conditions in Latin America were showing some signs of improvement has turned into a full-blown declaration that the worst is over in the region. Although yields remain depressed, Copa turned a corner in its passenger unit revenue performance in 3Q2016, posting positive results driven by healthy load factors. Copa continues to experience strengthening demand, and believes it is only a matter of time before yields turn a corner.
The changing conditions have resulted in Copa issuing a slight upward revision to its margin guidance for 2016, and the airline has outlined a framework for restoring its operating margins to the high teens during the next couple of years. Copa’s preliminary growth project for 2017 is an ASM increase of approximately 5% driven largely by aircraft ultilisation.
As optimism builds that Latin America is starting to turn an economic corner, Copa is undertaking a strategic business move by shifting its business model in Colombia to a low cost operation. The new entity Wingo is debuting in Dec-2016; Copa holds the view that the shift in business model is low-risk, and highlights the fact that Wingo does not carry the same challenges as low cost subsidiaries created by other airlines.
Copa Airlines: branching out with its new LCC Wingo to regain lost ground in Colombia
After years of fading into the backdrop of Colombia’s aviation market, Copa Airlines is making a bold move to make itself more competitive in the market place. Copa is reigniting competition after the company’s subsidiary Copa Colombia decided to cede domestic market share to other airlines a few years ago, in order to focus largely on international routes.
Copa’s weapon of choice is the creation of a new low cost airline Wingo, operated as a unit of Copa Colombia with a targeted market debut in Dec-2016. Wingo is designed as a lower frills point-to-point airline, operating four Boeing 737s in a single-class 142-seat configuration. It is a shift in strategy for the Copa Group, which operates a full service model leveraging traffic flows over its hub at Panama City Tocumen international airport.
Wingo is also adding service to Panama City’s Pacific international airport, (Panama City Pacifico), which results in Copa’s business units then operating to the city’s two airports. Copa’s commitment to serve Panama’s secondary airport reflects its new strategy to become more competitive in Colombia’s aviation market, and create a defensive shield against further LCC encroachment in the future.