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All Things Travel: Copa Airlines Begins Logan Service

By Bob Weiss, CBSBoston.com Travel Contributor
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BOSTON (CBS) – A tip of the Panama straw hat to the Massachusetts Port Authority.

For the second year in a row it has landed a major international carrier at Logan Airport and opened an important new route.

Last year, it was Japan Airlines with flights to Tokyo. Last week, it was Copa Airlines with daily non-stop flights to Panama City connecting to 55 Latin America destinations.

Can Massport make it three in a row?

The next best candidate would be a Mideast airline.  The best prospects are probably El Al or Turkish Airlines.

Two factors could postpone such a decision – the rising cost of fuel and unrest in Middle East countries.

Copa will fly Boeing 737-700 aircraft with a capacity of 12 business class seats and 112 in the main cabin. The initial flight left Logan on July 11 at about 10 a.m., arriving in Panama City about 2:30 p.m. About 100 passengers were on that first flight and the airline said advance bookings were meeting their projections.

The arrival time in the afternoon is scheduled for a bank of connecting flights leaving about an hour later. Copa is a member of The Star Alliance that includes United Airlines.

This reporter travels from Boston to Buenos Aires about every other year to visit family. It seems to me that Copa has missed a marketing opportunity. You will now be able to leave Boston in the morning and arrive in Buenos Aires at midnight, avoiding the usual overnight non-stop flights from New York or Miami.

Passengers can also stop over in Panama City for up to 72 hours without an extra charge, except airport taxes.

Copa can expect major competition from both American Airlines and United Airlines. Their long-haul South American routes are among the most profitable for those carriers. The airlines purchased the routes from Eastern Airlines and Pan Am more than 20 years ago.

Massport indicated that more than $190 million in ticket revenue was generated in passengers flying on routes served by Copa Airlines.

Tom Glynn, CEO of Massport, praised a group of 300 local business people who said they would support the new flights. He also thanked The Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism for their efforts in promoting the new service. MOTT and The Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau were hosting about 20 media people from Panama who arrived on the first flight for a four-day visit.

Bob Weiss reports on business travel on Mondays at 5:55 a.m. on WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

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