Copa Airlines is expanding its Tampa-to-Panama City service to seven days a week.
The idea to bring daily service to Tampa is part of an effort to knit together a growing network that will have 79 destinations in 32 countries by year’s end.
Fernando Fondevila, Copa’s regional manager for North American commercial operations mentioned that by adding new destinations, they are bringing the Tampa Bay community closer to Latin America. Connecting through Panama, Copa offers more international destinations than any other airline in the region.
Copa caters to business travelers. It touts that its on-time performance has been the best in the Americas five years running and fourth best worldwide. Its on-board service doesn’t charge for food, headsets or entertainment. And its membership in the Star Alliance allows travelers to earn and redeem frequent flier miles on 28 different airlines.
That said, its jets to and from Tampa tend to carry about 60 percent leisure travelers and 40 percent corporate.
That is consistent with what Tampa International Airport has heard since Copa began four-times-a-week service in December 2013.
Initially, Copa saw mixed results from its service to the bay area. In 2014, its Tampa flights had a load factor, or percentage of filled seats, of 67 percent.
More recently, Copa’s Tampa flights ran 82 percent full for October through May of this year, up from 77.7 percent for the same period a year ago. And airport officials said they have indications that demand will rise as options do.
The airport has estimated that daily flights will have an economic impact of $33.8 million a year.