Copa to focus on growing frequencies beyond 2012

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Panama's Copa Airlines expects to focus on adding frequencies to its existing routes during the next 18 months, after opening up 14 new destinations during the past year.

The Star Alliance carrier is on track to grow capacity by 23% this year. It launched nine new destinations in 2011, and has opened five this year.

Copa's chief executive Pedro Heilbron says that the 14 new markets are performing well and adds that the airline will likely add a few additional destinations during the next 18 months or so but not as many as the number opened up in recent years, in an earnings call today.

"Our growth will be more focused towards increasing frequencies rather than adding destinations, as we give an opportunity for the 14 destinations we added in the 12 months or so to mature," says Heilbron.

Copa is also set to benefit from a further expansion of Panama City Tocumen airport in the coming years, as the airport plans to add a second terminal with 20 to 30 additional gates.

The tender process for bids on the new terminal will open in a week or so, says Heilbron. The new terminal should be ready in two and a half to three years, he adds.

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