The ATP (Panama Tourism Authority) has aggressively been courting the tourism market in Europe. Panama does pretty well in terms of the United States, Canada and other Latin American markets but has been working to increase its attractiveness and availability as a destination in European markets. To that end it will be present in multiple travel industry fairs mainly in Europe and the US.
Panama has been working hard at getting another direct flight from Europe to Panama. The ATP has recently signed a collaboration contract with the airline Air Europa to work on starting a direct flight from Madrid to Panama.
Should the ATP and Air Europa come to an agreement the company would operate four flights into Tocumen in the peak season, summer, and in the low season three flights. The operations may start in October of this year. Air Europa Chairman, Juan José Hidalgo, indicated that the route would be operated with A330-200 planes which can carry up to 299 passengers. The ATP indicates that Air Europa has had discussions with COPA Airlines to be able to distribute the passengers of both airlines. The results of these conversations are key in making this initiative a reality.
A flight from Madrid to Panama might not have enough demand but if COPA comes on board with its role as the Latin American connection through Tocumen then it would become a profitable route for the European airline.
Following this, the next step would be for these same travelers coming from Europe to be able to hop on national flights taking them to Bocas or Chiriqui from the same airport. This is already being discussed as well. The ATP will negotiate this year the purchasing of 200 hectares (494 acres) of land adjacent to the current airport where the terminal for national flights will be located. There will only be flights for those routes that have a high to medium volume such as Bocas and David. This will allow tourists to buy tickets such as Bogota-David, Madrid-Bocas. Other low volume routes will continue to operate from the airport at Albrook.
Charter flights direct from US, Canada and Europe will be rerouted to Howard Airport once its refueling capacity is upgraded. Once this is completed the refueling of aircraft will be able to land and depart from Howard. This will make it much easier for the all inclusive resorts on the beach who depend on these charter flights.
It seems that the ATP has put together a plan for increasing tourist activity within the next five years that will benefit the country’s GDP in a significant way and will directly impact population in the areas that are on the main tourist routes in Panama.
For More info on Panama: PanamaQmagazine