Copa Airlines is considering Boeing's planned New Mid-market Airplane (NMA), which it says could potentially provide additional capacity on its longest routes, chief executive Pedro Heilbron tells FlightGlobal.

The Panamanian carrier's interest in the NMA is significant, given that it has steadfastly stuck to a narrowbody fleet all this while. However, Heilbron says a more cost-efficient widebody could convince Copa to change its mind.

"The existing widebodies make no sense," he tells FlightGlobal ahead of the US Chamber of Commerce aviation summit in Washington DC.

"But the NMA might make sense for Copa, if it gives us more capacity and range in what we hope will be a much less expensive and easier to operate aircraft compared to the 787 or A330."

Copa operates a fleet of Boeing 737s and Embraer 190s. While the NMA might not necessarily open up new destinations, it will allow the airline to operate with a full load on longer haul flights like to Buenos Aires and Los Angeles, says Heilbron.

"If Boeing can come up with a light widebody that is as cost competitive as the Max, similar in turnaround time, that will be of interest to us. The minute they are ready to launch, we are going to have that conversation," he adds. "We could easily be a customer for the NMA."

Boeing is studying a potential launch of the NMA, and has created a programme office to support the conceptual aircraft but will require an approval from its board to move ahead with a formal launch.

Source: Cirium Dashboard