Boeing in $6.6-bn aircraft deal with Panama's Copa Airlines

US aircraft giant Boeing Co has agreed to supply 70 Boeing 737 Max airplanes to Panama's flag carrier Copa Airlines in a deal valued at approximately $6.6 billion, making it the biggest commercial transaction ever between a Panamanian and a US-based company.
The historic deal was signed by Copa Holdings SA chairman Stanley Motta, CEO Pedro Heibron and Boeing chairman and CEO Jim McNerney in presence of US president Barack Obama and Panama president Juan Carlos Varela.

The heads of state were in Panama City attending the seventh Summit of the Americas represented by the top leaders of around 35 countries in the region.

"Copa is proud to sign this landmark order in the presence of our two presidents," said Heilbron.

"The Next-Generation 737 is the backbone for our fleet today, and our order for the 737 Max shows our continued commitment for the future to bring people together across all of the Americas using the most modern and efficient airplanes in the sky as well as our Hub of the Americas in Panama City,'' he further stated.

Under the deal, Seattle-based Boeing will supply 61 737 Max 8 and nine Max 9 airplanes.

The 737 Max builds on the strengths of today's Next-Generation 737 by incorporating more efficient CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets and other improvements to deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market.

Copa plans to use the new planes to replace its aging 737 Next Gen aircraft and propel the airline's growth plans. The airline will be the first in the region to operate Boeing 737 Max 9, the bigger version of the two, in its long-haul routes.

"This order is an important step in strengthening Copa's leadership in the region as we enhance our world class product and expand our network,'' Similarly, we are very excited about bringing new opportunities for Panama's economic growth in the process."Motta commented.

"Copa has a history of leading the way for Latin America's aviation industry, and this order shows their dedication to continuous improvement in performance, customer satisfaction and efficiency," Boeing chairman McNerney said.

Boeing claims a 14-per cent lower fuel burn rate for 737 Max over today's most fuel efficient single-aisle planes. Compared with competitor Airbus' A320neo, it will have an 8-per cent operating cost per seat gain.

It also features sleek interior, a spacious cabin with more headroom and LED lighting that offers vibrant color options.

The 737 Max is scheduled for first delivery in 2017 and Boeing has 2715 firm orders for the 737 Max from 57 customers around the world.

Copa Airlines, operating from its hub in Panama City flies to 73 destinations in 30 countries in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean. The airline also owns Copa Airline Columbia and is a member of the Star Alliance.