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Hispanic Heritage Month Routes: Central America

Copa Airlines celebrates 75 years of serving the region

Officials from Copa Airlines and Miami-Dade County gathered at Miami International Airport on September 14 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Copa’s first flight on August 15, 1947. As part of the celebration, MIA was the first airport outside of Copa’s headquarters in Panama City to welcome the airline’s custom-painted 75thanniversary Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which received a water-cannon salute from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. The event, which featured traditional Panamanian polleras dance performances, provided the perfect kickoff to the airport’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15.

Copa’s special edition Boeing 737-800 NG, which was first unveiled in Panama, was painted at the Copa Airlines Maintenance Center, located at the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City. More than 30 employees participated in the process, including aviation painters, designers, and engineers, totaling over 2,500 hours of work in 15 days.

Copa chose Miami for the commemorative flight because it was the airline’s first U.S. destination on December 1, 1989. With six daily flights from Panama City, Miami is now one of Copa’s busiest destinations. Coincidentally, Copa’s 75th-anniversary celebration at MIA also came one day before the airport’s 94th anniversary of its first flight on September 15, 1928. Today, MIA stands as the busiest U.S. airport for flights to Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

With more than 800,000 passengers annually to and from MIA, Panama is the airport’s busiest Central American market and 10th-busiest international market overall. Panama City is one of 10 Central American destinations with nonstop service from MIA. In total, there are 26 daily flights currently between MIA and the Central American cities of: Belize City, Belize; Guatemala City, Guatemala; Liberia, Costa Rica; Managua, Nicaragua; Panama City, Panama; Roatan, Honduras; San Jose, Costa Rica; San Pedro Sula, Honduras; San Salvador, El Salvador; and Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua rank among MIA’s 25th busiest international travel markets, responsible for more than two million annual passengers combined. As a region, Central America is MIA’s 2nd-busiest trade partner in weight and 4th-busiest in value, at 133,033 tons of freight worth $6.45 billion in 2021. Among MIA’s top 10 trade partners by country in 2021, Costa Rica ranked 6th in weight at 41,826 tons and Honduras ranked 10th at 23,281 tons, with Costa Rica also ranking 7th in trade value at $2.6 billion tons.