Copa Airlines to pack more seats onto some of its Boeing 737 jets

Dec 5, 2019

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You may soon find yourself with a little less personal space on some of Copa Airlines‘ Boeing 737s.

The carrier plans to add seats to some of its Boeing 737 jets, part of a larger program to keep costs low as it continues to expand from its Panama City hub.

Copa will increase the number of seats on its 68 737-800s to 166 seats by the end of 2021, the Star Alliance carrier said in an investor presentation Wednesday. The airline currently outfits the planes with either 154 seats or 160 seats, both of which include 16 recliner business-class seats.

Copa also will add a new, denser layout on its 737 MAX 9 jets once deliveries resume next year. Aircraft delivered from mid-2020 will be outfitted with 174 seats, eight more than on the current 166-seat MAX 9s.

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Copa was not immediately available to say whether the denser MAX 9s will feature the lie-flat business class seat that the airline introduced on the jet in 2018.

“While densification will contribute to unit cost savings, [Copa] was bullish on the increased revenue potential during peak demand periods,” Duane Pfennigwerth, an analyst at Evercore, wrote in a Thursday report on the presentation. The added seats, he said, will allow the airline to better capture that peak demand and add capacity across its network.

Related: Copa Airlines to become an all-Boeing carrier

Copa is one of the largest carriers in Latin America. Its hub at Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport (PTY) — which Copa calls the “Hub of the Americas” — allows the airline to conveniently connect passengers between North America and South America with service to 80 destinations in 33 countries.

In addition, Copa is a close partner of United Airlines. It is in the process of forming an expansive partnership with United, as well as Avianca and possibly Azul, covering flights between the U.S. and select Latin American countries.

Pfennigwerth, in his report, noted that Copa remains closely aligned with United even with delays to the planned four-way partnership.

Featured image by Alberto Riva/TPG.

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