IATA: Copa Airlines to announce new destinations this year

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Panama-based Copa Airlines is likely to announce up to two new destinations by end-2013, as the carrier grows more moderately following a stream of new destinations in the last two years.

The Star Alliance carrier's chief executive Pedro Heilbron tells Flightglobal that the two destinations could be anywhere in the Americas, but emphasises that the airline is focusing more on growing flight frequencies on existing routes.

Copa will launch flights to Boston from 10 July, but has not detailed new destinations beyond that.

Copa has said it aims to grow capacity by 14% in 2013, compared with 24.1% in 2012. In the last two years, Copa added 14 new destinations to its network.

The airline is continuing to assess the Boeing 737 Max, which it has expressed interest in. Heilbron, who was speaking on the sidelines of the IATA annual general meeting in Cape Town, says the carrier still has "a little bit of time" before it has to make a decision.

The 737 Max is scheduled to enter into service in 2017, and Heilbron believes that the earliest delivery positions are probably already taken. Copa would likely take new aircraft five to six years from now if it places an order.

"Eventually we want to continue receiving 737 narrowbodies," says Heilbron.

The carrier has 29 737-800s to be delivered, Flightglobal's Ascend Online database shows. Heilbron has said the airline will add eight 737-800s this year.

Copa has also expressed interest in Embraer's re-engined E-jet, but Heilbron indicates that the airline has not started active talks with Embraer on the aircraft yet. Copa operates only the 737 and Embraer 190, and Heilbron says the carrier does not intend to add a third aircraft type.