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Everyone seems to have a collection of air travel disaster anecdotes to share, so I won't burden this note with my most recent misadventure. What I do wish to pass along is a sense that the golden days of COPA Airlines are presently likely to be behind us.

I have enjoyed COPA's service, which is easily superior to that of most US -based airlines I have made use of in the past. But the company's new headlong rush into the future is diluting its competitive strengths. COPA has nearly 60 new jets on order, compared to its base of just under 100. The company announces new routes and destinations with regularity. To this observer, the challenges in recruitment, training, and infrastructure of such a high growth rate signal major trouble ahead. To which must be added the inevitable teething problems when the new Tocumen terminal finally opens.

A commercial airline is an incredibly complex system, and is vulnerable to disastrous events when a simple link fails.

Panama City is challenging Miami as the hub for The Americas, and COPA's day has dawned. The temptation to make the most of the opportunity is difficult to resist, and the company has succumbed. The price will be a decline in the quality of customer experience. The stock (listed on the New York Exchange) has had a nice run, but has dropped from its high last January at 135 to today's 76. The consensus of opinion expressed in the stock market is trending downward, but that rarely causes management or the Board to alter their strategic plan.

I expect to have more frequent negative experiences in the future when traveling with COPA.

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9 hours ago, Jim Bondoux said:

so I won't burden this note with my most recent misadventure

Oh, c'mon Jim, please do...

9 hours ago, Jim Bondoux said:

Panama City is challenging Miami as the hub for The Americas

Isn't this more related to shipping business than airline business?  If Copa really want's to challenge, then they need European destinations, and with full lie flat business seats (a first for Copa) on their new Boeing 737 MAX 9's, maybe this is their plan - do you have any inside info on this?

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No inside info here. I just note that COPA has built their success on the model developed many years ago by Southwest Airlines, i.e. hub & spoke route map and focus on one aircraft model (i.e. Boeing 737 variants, give them a pass for the few Embraers in the fleet). I have flown into Tocumen on COPA from Santiago, Aruba, Bridgetown, Las Vegas, Denver, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and a couple of other places that slip my memory, and I am amazed at how few of my fellow passengers show up at immigration - the overwhelming majority are connecting to some other flight. I now watch when they pass out the Panama customs forms on board - hardly anyone takes one to fill out.

That is the source of my sense that Panama is taking the Americas passenger hub business away from Miami. I don't think Panama's geographic position (on the same meridian as Miami) gives it the same potential for European destinations.

As to the full recline seats, they don't exist in a Southwest-type model - no long-range non-stop flights - just hopscotching along, not unlike a bus route.

If I had inside info of any kind it would be illegal for me to share it... my comments are just based on my observations as a traveler.

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