Thanks for your question PMac. I asked an iteration of it on Thursday last week of some people at United and did not get a very clear answer. I think the similarity of planes comes from the fact that Continental (now absorbed by United) used to own 49% of Copa and, as a result, was basicially replicating itself in the Latin American carrier. They likely ordered similar designs of aircraft when they were setting their plane specs and, given the fact that the useful life of an aircraft is 25 years, those things will probably continue to fly for a few more years looking the way that they do. Your theory regarding buying old planes from United is also a possibility, although they would only do it if there was a price advantage, and airlines usually “redecorate” the planes they buy from other airlines. Branding and all…
I’ll keep you posted as I continue to investigate what’s really going on under the Copa / United current relationship “hood.”
Thanks for your question. I do think that the hub-and-spoke model is being slowly faded out in certain markets, but in Copa’s case I believe that it will remain central to their business plan for a while. As opposed to many of the world’s hubs, the Panama City appears to still have capacity available, which, I’m sure, is in part due to Copa’s cooperation with and presence on the airport’s board. Also, given Copa’s aim to serve as a connector between markets that have relatively low traffic, they almost have to keep using a hub to keep their load factors high and the airline profitable. With time, as cities in Latin America continue to grow and develop, I do believe it’s possible that Copa will introduce more point-to-point flights without the layover in PC.
For now…in order to get to Quito, Ecuador, I will first have to fly up to Panama City from Cartagena, Colombia and then head back south. Alas and alack, but I suppose writing this post makes me a bit more excited about this need to “backtrack.”
Thanks for the question Mike and thanks for the Surf Air post. Really interesting stuff.
Re: reengining their fleet, I don’t have any specific data on it, but my theory is that Copa would only do it if it make sense economically, and with fuel prices as low as they are, airlines are a bit less focused at the moment on switching to higher-efficiency engines and aircraft models in general. I do expect though, with time, Copa will have to upgrade its fleet and if the MAX is the best option at the time and is aligned with where they’re flying, they’ll make the switch.
Let me know how you like flying them down to Peru! Bon Voyage!
Thanks for the post, Vimit. You probably knew this was coming – but how much do you think Emirates’ success due to the [unadmitted] state subsidies that allow them to spend so much on customer service? What do you think about European and U.S. carriers extremely negative response to Emirates coming into their markets and competing with this “unfair” advantage (as it is seen by many)? Cheers!
Thanks for the great post, Yuta. Would be curious to hear from you about labor laws in Japan. In the U.S. and Europe, airlines suffer quite a bit from unionized employees, but they seem to be (at the very least) treated more decently by the management as a result. Does Japan have any union equivalents or do FAs have no recourse against poor treatment by management? Cheers!
Hey Fennerty – thanks for the interesting post! Curious to hear what you think about United’s upcoming initiative to offer a “no frills” option to their customers to fight off the likes of Spirit. What do you think Spirit can do to respond to such initiatives by the legacy carriers, especially given that Spirit doesn’t have a loyalty program. Cheers!
Thanks for the interesting post, Michael! My old boss in SF used to fly Surf Air from SF to Santa Barbara pretty regularly and seemed to really enjoy it. I do wonder about two things though: 1. safety – what are they doing to ensure that the screening of the passengers is comparably thorough to traditional passenger screening (especially given that they’re planning to expand beyond California) and 2. I’d be curious to know what the new management you mentioned (the one that came with airline experience) did to align their operating and business models. Cheers!