Header background image

Explore Today's Deals

Logo invertediFly.com

COPA Airlines History

COPA Airlines, officially known as Compañía Panameña de Aviación, is the national flag carrier of Panama. Founded in 1947, the airline has a rich history that spans over seven decades. Throughout its existence, COPA Airlines has played a crucial role in connecting Panama with the rest of the world and has become one of the leading airlines in Latin America.

The story of COPA Airlines began on June 21, 1944, when a group of Panamanian investors and Pan American World Airways established the airline as a domestic carrier under the name Compañía Panameña de Aviación. Initially, the airline operated a small fleet of three Douglas C-47 aircraft, providing domestic flights within Panama.

Over the years, COPA Airlines expanded its operations and started offering international flights. In 1966, the airline introduced its first international route, connecting Panama City with San Jose, Costa Rica. This marked the beginning of COPA Airlines' transformation into a major international carrier.

More Airline Insights & Tips

Here are a few of helpful resources & tips that can further enhance your knowledge of COPA airlines and how to best be prepared for your trip:

  • Delays are an unfortunate fact of the life of an air traveler. Arm yourself against surprises by knowing the flight status of your CM COPA flight before heading to the airport, as this could save you a lot of time, or even your trip to the airport if your flight is canceled.
  • Info can be found here on COPA Airlines’s company structure, headquarters, etc.
  • See which partnerships and alliances COPA has here. This is useful if you want to build up your frequent flyer points on partner airlines.
  • Want to know which plane types are in service? Check out CM’s fleet list here.
  • When considering a flight booking on COPA Airlines, be aware that third-party travel sites might require you to use their customer service instead of COPA 's, which may be less than ideal in certain situations.

Beyond the history presented here for COPA , if you’re wanting more aviation history, read about the history of commercial flight here, or the history of the airline industry here.

In the 1980s, COPA Airlines underwent significant changes that propelled its growth. The airline modernized its fleet by acquiring Boeing 737 aircraft, which allowed for longer flights and increased passenger capacity. With a focus on expanding its network, COPA Airlines added new destinations in the Americas and the Caribbean, establishing itself as a key player in the region.

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, COPA Airlines continued to strengthen its position in the aviation industry. The airline implemented advanced technologies and improved its services, earning a reputation for its reliability and efficiency. COPA Airlines also formed strategic alliances with other major airlines, such as Continental Airlines (now United Airlines), which further enhanced its global reach.

Today, COPA Airlines operates a modern fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft and serves more than 80 destinations in 33 countries. The airline's hub, Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, has become a major connecting point for travelers flying between North, Central, and South America. COPA Airlines has received numerous awards and accolades for its exceptional customer service and operational excellence.

For more information about this airline, check out our comprehensive COPA Airlines Guide.

Find more help here for your journey through the airport