Copa to grow capacity by 10% in 2014

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Copa Airlines will grow 2014 capacity by 10%, and expects keep capacity growth in this range in the coming years.

Copa will add eight Boeing 737-800s next year. In the third quarter ending 30 September, the carrier extended leases on four 737-700s that were ending in 2014. The leases on two aircraft were extended by a year while the remaining two were extended for two years, says Copa's chief financial officer Jose Montero on an earnings call today.

Copa's chief executive Pedro Heilbron says the airline does not expect to deviate much from 2014's 10% capacity growth in the next few years. "We expect growth to be in that range, in the low teens. But we always have the flexibility to lease aircraft," he adds.

For 2013, Copa still expects capacity to grow by about 14%. Its guidance for full-year load factors, revenue per available seat mile (RASM) and cost per available seat mile (CASM) excluding fuel remain unchanged. These are 76%, 13.6 cents and 6.7 cents respectively. Copa is forecasting a 20% operating margin for 2013, in line with the 19% to 21% range it provided previously.

In preliminary guidance for 2014, Copa expects load factors to come in at around 77%, slightly higher than 2013. It forecasts that RASM will be around 13.7 cents, also higher than 2013. CASM excluding fuel, however, will be slightly higher at 6.8 cents. Copa expects an operating margin of 19% to 21% for 2014.