Meet Wingo, Copa Holdings’ New Low-Cost International Carrier

Print Friendly

Good news for travelers in Panama and Colombia! Copa Holdings, the parent company of Copa Airlines, announced the launch of a new low-cost airline that will have a hub in Panama City, and connect travelers with a variety of cheap, fun, international and domestic locations. This is huge for regional flights, especially to and from Colombia, and will generate more competition for Viva Colombia, currently the only budget airline leaving from Panama (Panama Pacifico Airport). Though owned by the same entity, Wingo will be a completely separate brand from Copa Airlines, which currently has flights (and will share routes) to Bogota and Medellin, from Tocumen International Airport. Wingo is looking to offer lower prices than Copa for Panama/Colombian travel, but with a more “bare bones” approach to amenities, and small surcharges for things like luggage, food, and seat assignments.

Wingo is taking on a regional market that is becoming more and more demanding for low-cost flights

The main purpose of Wingo, from a business perspective, is to re-brand and re-invent Copa Holdings’ domestic service in Colombia, Copa Colombia, and expand it. It’s also needed to help stop hemorrhaging profits, which have declined in the domestic Colombia market for the past few years. Wingo will take over Copa Colombia’s existing domestic routes, and travel to 16 cities in 10 countries. All of the routes are in Central/South America and the Caribbean, and should be sizably cheaper than bigger, full-service international carriers, giving travelers another great option for low-cost business or pleasure travel.

According to press releases from Copa, the new airline will operate in a point-to-point business model, “with a simple organizational structure and low operating costs …offer[ing] low prices and convenient payment methods, as well as the option for travelers to personalize their travel experience with the amenities and services they value during their flight,” Copa said in a statement. Copa has hired Carolina Breton, the former Director of International Planning and Commercial for Jet Blue, as well as former head of Colombia’s Avianca, to be CEO of Wingo.

Panama flights will all be international, leaving from city’s Panama Pacifico airport

Another big win for Panama in all of this is that Wingo’s local hub will be at the Panama Pacifico Airport, which is a huge bonus for many travelers originating from Panama City. Wingo’s in-city location will help draw more low-cost travelers, and cut commute times as far as getting to flights. From Panama, you will be able to fly daily to Bogota, Medellin, and San Jose (Costa Rica). However, through Colombia, you’ll be able to connect to lots of Latin American locations, including Cancun, Aruba, Quito, Caracas, and Mexico City. Since Copa currently has direct flights to all three international locations listed by Wingo, it will be interesting to see how they share the market under the same parent corporation. Copa, however, insists that the products are different enough to not directly compete, but rather to share and expand these markets. For now though, it’s just speculation.

Wingo will go into service starting on December 1st, 2016. Right now, on their website, only about half of the destinations are available to book, however by the official launch date this should be complete. If you’re a frequent regional traveler, or want a new opportunity to explore more of Colombia and Latin America, this should be a great new option. Stay tuned!

About Manoj Chatlani

Manoj Chatlani is a Senior Partner at POLS Attorneys, a full-service law firm in Panama City, Panama. Specializing in offshore services, including asset protection, estate planning, offshore banking, and offshore corporations, as well as Panama immigration and real estate transactions, POLS Attorneys offers clients a streamlined solution to all their Panama legal needs. Manoj is a Panamanian lawyer and holds a law degree from USMA and earned a Masters in Communication Law and Panama Tax law.

Like what you've read? Subscribe to our Newsletter.

* denotes a required field
First Name: *
Last Name: *
Email: *