Panama-based Copa Airlines expects to grow 2014 capacity in the high single digit to low double digit range.
The Star Alliance carrier plans to add eight Boeing 737-800s to its fleet in 2014, says the airline's chief executive Pedro Heilbron in an earnings call today. The leases on four 737-700s will also expire in 2014, he adds.
"We have not made a final decision on how many of those leases we will retain," says Heilbron. "We could grow by as many as eight aircraft or less if we return those."
The airline expects its capacity to grow by 14% in 2013, and retains that guidance in a revised outlook released today. Full-year revenue per available seat mile (RASM) is forecasted to come in at about 13.7 cents, up slightly from the 13.6 cents that Copa previously expected.
Copa expects its 2013 operating margin to be in the 19% to 21% range, up slightly from the 18% to 20% range it previously forecasted.
The carrier will end 2013 with a fleet of 90 aircraft. It took delivery of two 737-800s in the first quarter, added another one in the second quarter and will take delivery of three in the third quarter and one more in the fourth quarter.
Copa grew capacity by 24.1% in 2012, but Heilbron says capacity growth in the years ahead will not hit these levels. In the last 24 months, the airline added 14 new destinations to its network, translating into a 50% overall growth in capacity.
This aggressive growth was due to the airline taking advantage of a new concourse that opened at Panama City Tocumen International airport in 2012, which grew the number of gates there to 34 from 22.
While Copa is still expecting a year of double-digit capacity growth this year, the airline expects this to be "more moderate" as it concentrates more on adding frequencies on existing routes, says Heilbron.
The airline will begin daily flights to Boston from 10 July, and forward bookings indicate that the new route will be a success, he adds. Later this year, the airline will also boost flight frequencies on its services to Orlando, Punta Cana, Medellin and Port of Spain.
Work recently started on a new south terminal at the airport, which will add an additional 20 gates to the airport, says Heilbron. The new terminal is expected to be ready in three to four years.