Copa Airlines has announced expansion plans for 2018, which include the addition of new Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft along with new destination cities in Brazil and Barbados. The airline will add six aircraft this year, five of which will be the 737 MAX 9, which are equipped with CFM LEAP-1B engines that are designed to reduce fuel consumption by 15%. Copa says the engines are also 40% quieter, which will result in a better travel experience for customers.
The first orders of the new 737 MAX 9 aircraft, along with Copa Airlines’ previous 737 MAX orders, will start in August. The rest of the deliveries are scheduled for between 2019-24. In total, Copa Airlines will be receiving 71 737 MAX aircraft.
“With a larger, more modern and more efficient fleet, in 2018 we will consolidate and strengthen the growth we achieved in 2017,” says Copa Airlines CEO Pedro Heilbron.
In addition to the expansion of its fleet and destinations, Copa Airlines has been growing its service. Last year, the airline transported more than 13.5 million passengers—an increase of 7.1% compared to 2016. Copa Airlines says it plans to increase that number to 14.4 million for 2018.
Thanks to all of this growth, Copa Airlines expects to generate 800 new employment opportunities in Panama. Approximately 100 of these jobs are estimated to be maintenance-related for 2018, with the number growing to approximately 200 within the next two years. The airline says it will maintain its internal training program with the Academy of Aviation Technicians and the Latin Academy of Higher Aviation to continue development of its labor force with the highest standards of quality.
Last year, Copa Airlines’ VP of technical operations, Ahmad Zamany, told Aviation Week the airline planned to start an additional heavy maintenance line by September 2018, with hopes to start a second line at a later date as needed. Groundbreaking of the airline’s facility expansion in Panama took place in January 2017. The expansion includes a new hangar, which Zamany said would accommodate three aircraft as big as the 737 MAX 9 simultaneously. The airline estimates that the first phases of construction will be complete by the end of 2018.
To hear more from Copa Airlines, don’t miss MRO Latin America, February 14-15, 2018 in Panama City, Panama.