Several articles have been published indicating that Panama has weathered the economic crisis a bit better than most even showing growth this year albeit much lower than growth percentages recorded previously. Percentages and reports from international agencies are very good however they still remain abstract however when actual real companies are presenting growth, new business strategies and alliances for the future it just makes the numbers become real.
Panamanian businesses are definitely growing. Panamanian airline Copa grew 16.6% in terms of traffic volume this month versus the same month last year. Its occupation percentage in flights was 81.9%, 6.5% over the occupation rate for the same period last year. Aero República, a Copa airlines subsidiary flying to Colombia, also showed strong growth for the month of October. Passenger traffic increased 24.7%, and the occupation rate was 75.2%, 13.2% greater than in October of last year. October is the second consecutive month that the airline shows better results than last year in spite of the economic crisis and the H1N1 epidemic which directly affected the travel industry.
On the maritime front the Carnival Cruise Lines is talking to the Panama Maritime Authority in order to register its 22 vessel fleet under the Panamanian flag. Sixteen of the Line’s cruise ships are already registered as Panamanian vessels and they wish to register the remaining six which would make all the Carnival cruises Panamanian flag vessels. Panama is currently seeking a new record in maritime registration hoping to reach 9,000 vessels registered under its flag. It currently has 8,900.
Another Panamanian company is ramping up its growth by finalizing its alliance with international food facilities and employee benefit giant, Sodexho. The Panamanian 24 hour restaurant chain, Niko s Cafe and multinational Sodexho have formed Sodexho Panama in order to serve the needs of the workers participating in Panama’s mega projects; those ongoing and those that are being scheduled for the next years. Workers in mega projects specially those in remote areas need services such as laundry services, food services, trash collection, water treatment and sewage disposal, among others. Sodexho Panama was created to serve those needs. They already have their first important client, the consortium United for the Canal. This new venture is expected to generate 600 new jobs.
On the tourism front the peak season already kicked off: the first of twelve Dutch cruise ships already docked in Panama. The cruise ship Oosterdam from the Holland America Line, with more than 1,900 passengers docked at Flamenco Island in the Amasser Causeway. Panama is expected to receive more than 150 cruise ships this year.
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