Copa To Reach Pre-Pandemic Capacity Levels In Third Quarter

Credit: Rob Finlayson

Copa Airlines plans to fully restore its capacity to pre-pandemic levels in the third quarter (Q3) as demand continues to rebound.

The Panama-based airline deployed nearly 97% of its pre-pandemic capacity in the second quarter (Q2), and despite an 86% jump in fuel prices year-on-year, Copa posted a net profit of $13.2 million excluding special items. The company’s Q2 yields were 10% higher than in Q2 2019, and its Q2 revenue of $693.4 million was a 7.5% increase over Q2 2019.

“We continue to see a recovering demand environment in the region and healthy booking trends,” Copa CEO Pedro Heilbron said. The company expects to record a 16% to 18% operating margin in Q3.

Copa took delivery of a single Boeing 737-9 in the June quarter. The company ended the quarter with 94 aircraft, which was roughly 92% of its fleet size at the end of 2019.

Copa CFO Jose Montero said the company’s fleet comprises 68 737-800s, 17 737-9s and nine 737-700s. Those figures include three 737-700s in temporary storage and one retrofitted 737-800 freighter.

In the second half of 2022, Copa expects to take delivery of four additional 737-9s, and planned deliveries for 2023 include 11 737-9s and two 737-8s. The company’s fleet will grow from 98 aircraft at the end of 2022 to 108 at year-end 2023. “But it could even be a little bit more if we renew all our leases,” Montero said.

Heilbron said Copa only needs a set number of 737-9s that is uses for longer trip segments and that subfleet will likely reach a size of 30 aircraft. Copa has previously touted the flexibility in its order book with Boeing. Heilbron said the company has options for the 737-10, but “we haven’t made a final decision there.”

Lori Ranson

Lori covers North American and Latin airlines for Aviation Week and is also a Senior Analyst for CAPA - Centre for Aviation.