Copa to benefit from new south terminal at Tocumen

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Panama's Copa Airlines expects to leverage fully on a new terminal that will be built at the Panama City Tocumen International airport in the next four years.

The Panamanian government recently awarded a contract for the construction of the new south terminal, which will add at least 20 gates, a new control tower and more taxiways, says Copa's chief executive Pedro Heilbron in an earnings call today.

A new concourse that opened this year at the airport increased the number of gates at Tocumen to 34 from 22.

Copa already contributes 85% of the passenger movements at Tocumen, and this is likely to go up to 90% when the new terminal is ready, says Heilbron. While he says that access to the gates is on a "first come first served" basis, he adds that Copa is likely to "take up most, if not all" of the new gates.

Despite adding 14 new destinations in the last 18 months, the Star Alliance carrier has not witnessed significantly more connecting traffic, says Heilbron. "The mix in the last five years has tilted towards more Panama-based traffic," he says, referring to traffic that originates from or ends in Panama. Currently, about 48% of Copa's traffic is attributed to itineraries that begin or end in Panama, while the remaining 52% is connecting traffic, says Heilbron.