Copa Airlines Delays 737 MAX 8 Introduction


Boeing’s regulatory nightmare continues to impact its customers, with Copa Airlines being no exception.

According to previous route data, the Panamanian carrier was set to introduce their Boeing 737 MAX 8 type on July 5, 2024 between Panama City (PTY) and Trinidad (POS). However with Boeing’s 737 production line and processes under heavy scrutiny, delays have forced the carrier to push back its entry to service by six weeks.

Six-week delay

The latest schedule update now puts three other cities in the line up for a mid-August 2024 launch. On August 15, 2024, the first 737 MAX 8 flights will supposedly operate from from Panama City to Asuncion (ASU), Lima (LIM) and Costa Rica’s San José (SJO).

Bogota (BOG), Guatemala City (GUA) and Havana (HAV) will join the list the next day on August 16th. Flights to the United States will commence in September, with Miami (MIA) and Orlando (MCO) starting on September 15. MAX 8 service to Washington Dulles (IAD) will start a few days later on September 18.

I was personally disappointed to see this change as I was hoping to have caught the inaugural leg from Panama to Trinidad, however it’s not surprising given the number of setbacks at Boeing’s 737 production line.

These problems have forced a number of larger airlines to reshuffle their order books, delaying deliveries and putting in additional orders with Airbus to fill the longer term gaps. Southwest Airlines was also forced to freeze hiring new crew members and re-assessed its current complement after their MAX delivery forecast fell well below expected numbers.

According to Copa’s website, they supposedly already have two 737 MAX 8s in its fleet, but there is no publicly available information about the status or line numbers of these aircraft. If you’re looking to fly the inaugural flights, I’d hold off on booking until there is solid proof that these MAXs have physically joined the fleet.

According to ch-aviation, the delayed MAX 8 and 9 deliveries have reduced the company’s capacity growth to 10% versus a previously estimated 12-14%.

Copa Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 configuration

Credit: Boeing

Unlike their 737 MAX 9, their MAX 8s will have a generic layout with 16 recliner-style business class seats, and 150 economy seats. Of those 150, 24 are Economy Extra with 34 inches of seat pitch. Regular economy ranges between 30 and 31 inches.

Unfortunately business class passengers suffer a bit of a squeeze, with only 38 inches of seat pitch. It’s actually very comparable to what U.S. carriers like American and United offer on their MAX 8s, but there are airlines out there offering much better legroom. This is also a step down from Copa’s MAX 9s which have full lie-flat seats in business.

Featured image: Boeing

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