Raleigh-Durham gets new route to Panama City

Copa Airlines, the flag carrier of Panama, has announced plans to launch new routes to North America in the coming months. The airline will add service to Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) in the U.S. and Felipe Carrillo Puerto Airport (TQO) in Tulum, Mexico.

Copa Airlines will operate four weekly flights between its home base at Tocumen International Airport (PTY) in Panama City and RDU, starting in late June. The airline will use its Boeing 737-800 aircraft for this route. This will be Copa’s 16th destination in the U.S. and is part of the airline’s strategy to grow its capacity by 10% to 12% each year.

In addition to RDU, Copa Airlines will also connect to the new Felipe Carrillo Puerto Airport in Tulum, Mexico. This airport is set to welcome international airlines for the first time next month, providing travelers with easier access to the popular beach destination. Copa Airlines will also add service to Florianopolis, a destination in Brazil.

The addition of the RDU route is significant for Copa Airlines as it expands its presence in the U.S. market. The airline aims to cater to the growing demand from travelers outside of Panama who are interested in using Copa Airlines to connect to destinations in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Copa Airlines sees the development of the U.S. leisure traveler as an opportunity for growth.

RDU has been experiencing a recent surge in international flights. In addition to Copa Airlines, low-cost carrier Avelo has established a crew base at RDU. Aeromexico will also launch nonstop service to Mexico City, while Lufthansa will begin serving RDU with nonstops to Frankfurt. Air France already operates a nonstop route to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, and American Airlines offers transatlantic service to London’s Heathrow Airport.

The growth at RDU reflects the airport’s efforts to attract more international routes and accommodate the increasing demand from travelers. The airport saw a record number of passengers in 2023 and has continued to add new destinations. With the addition of Copa Airlines’ new route, RDU is set to see a 75% increase in seats to international destinations compared to five years ago.

Overall, Copa Airlines’ expansion into new routes in North America demonstrates the airline’s commitment to growth and its recognition of the potential in the U.S. and Mexican markets. The new routes will provide travelers with more options and easier access to popular destinations, further enhancing connectivity in the region.

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