SAN PEDRO, Ambergris Caye, Fri. June 15, 2018– Today, COPA (Compañía Panameña de Aviación) Airlines in coordination with Tropic Air held a press conference at the Sunbreeze Hotel in Ambergris Caye. The purpose was to announce the interline agreement between the two airlines which will allow for easier travel as well as a larger network of destinations for customers of both airlines.
COPA Airlines is based in Panama City and was founded in 1947. In July 2015, it announced that in December of that same year, it would begin flying to Belize. COPA currently flies to 74 destinations in 31 countries in the Caribbean and North, Central, and South America.
As Steven Schulte, CEO of Tropic Air, mentioned, when booking a flight from COPA to Belize, passengers would have to land at the Philip Goldson International Airport rather than at their final destination, be it San Pedro, Dangriga, or any other airport in the country.
To remedy this, COPA and Tropic Air have made an interline agreement to facilitate COPA customers. An interline agreement is simply an agreement between two airlines to provide service to passengers who are on the same itinerary but are travelling on multiple flights from multiple airports.
Rather than having to land at the international airport then buying another ticket to their destination, passengers will now be able to fly directly via connecting flights to any of the 11 destinations to which Tropic Air flies. Not only does this save them the trouble of booking two flights, and having two different plane tickets, but it also allows them to check their baggage through to the final destination.
This is a huge step in Belize’s tourism industry. As Christophe Didier, Vice President of Global Sales at COPA Airline, said, Belize is a country that is tourism-focused and it is COPA’s desire to “sell the country,” or make it more attractive to tourists.
COPA’s assistance in this matter is very important for Belize since they are one of the most well-established and highly rated airlines in Latin America. Didier mentioned that they offer more international flights than airlines based in San Paulo, Brazil or Mexico City, Mexico, even though both those countries have a much higher population than Panama. They also have the best reputation for being on time in all of Latin America.
Travelling will become easier with COPA because now, tourists from various countries, especially in South America, that would usually have a hard time getting to Belize, only have to fly to Panama and then directly to any Tropic Air destination in Belize.
The Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Manuel Heredia, Jr., praised COPA and Tropic Air for this partnership. According to him, this is a “natural and welcome evolution of Belize’s interest in creating further linkages in Central and South America, and beyond.”
He mentioned that “partnerships like today go a long way in setting long-term success for tourism,” and that this is “a healthy reminder that doing business in Belize is viable.”
John Greif III, the president of Tropic Air, concluded the press conference by revealing that this project had started two years ago and was a difficult process. He encouraged Belizean business owners to focus on Central American visitors by engaging in activities such as setting up trade shows in South America, and putting their websites and menus in languages such as Portuguese and Spanish.
Greif emphasized that Latin American tourists are just as important as North American tourists because they spend just as much and they also travel off-season, which is very important for Belize’s tourism industry.