COPA Airline to increase flights to Bahamas

COPA Airlines is already exploring the possibility of increasing the number of weekly flights to the Bahamas, although the airline is still weeks away from its inaugural flight to Nassau from Panama City.  COPA CEO Pedro Heilbron disclosed the possibility at a press conference with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation as COPA opened its Eighth COPA Vacations Convention at Atlantis Resort.  Mr. Heilbron said COPA’s faith in Bahamas business is demonstrated in the frequency with which it will open the Panama City to Nassau route. He pointed out that the airline will begin direct service to Nassau on June 15 with four flights per week. This is double the frequency with which it opened routes to St. Martin, Aruba, and Punta Cana, he said.  I have no doubt that it is going to grow from four,Mr. Heilbron said of the frequency of flights to Nassau.

Already, COPA has seen indications that the Nassau flight will be successful.
With the economic growth we are seeing in our region, we have no doubt, there is going to be good demand,Mr. Heilbron said.And actually, we are already seeing it. Advanced bookings are looking very positive.  In retrospect, Mr. Heilbron acknowledged that his airline had no intention of coming to the Bahamas. They had opened routes to other Caribbean destinations but it was a visit from Minister of Tourism and Aviation Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace and a team of Bahamians in December, 2009 that convinced them to fly to Nassau.

Minister Vanderpool-Wallace said it was the solid partnership of the public sector with the private sector that enabled the Ministry of Tourism & Aviation to put together the platform that allowed COPA to come into the country.  Now, the cooperation has shifted to ensure that Spanish-speaking visitors get the best possible welcome.  We were oversubscribed with people going to Spanish Classes because we recognize that we don’t just want to welcome people,he said.We want to welcome them in their own language.

COPA officials said the selection of Nassau/Paradise Island as the location for the COPA Vacations Convention is another demonstration of their faith in the business that the Bahamas will bring them.  The convention brought more than 200 guests, including  wholesalers, tourism authorities, tour operators and hoteliers to Nassau/Paradise Island from major cities in Latin America.  The convention began May 19 and ends May 23.

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