By the Caribbean Journal staff
In a major development for regional aviation in Latin America and the Caribbean, United Airlines has announced an agreement with Panama’s Copa Airlines and Colombia’s Avianca for a joint business agreement.
The agreement, still pending government approval, would include integrated service, new nonstop routes, additional flights on existing routes and reduced travel times, among others, according to a statement from United.
“The carriers expect the JBA to drive significant traffic growth at major gateway cities coast to coast, which is expected to help bring new investment and create more economic development opportunities,” the companies said in a joint statement.
“We are delighted to further solidify our existing partnership with United Airlines and look forward to increasing service options for our customers by working more closely with Avianca,” said Pedro Heilbron, Copa Airlines’ chief executive officer. “We believe this agreement benefits our passengers by providing competitive fares and a superior network of more than 275 destinations throughout Latin America and the U.S., and promotes further growth and innovation within the airline industry in the Americas.”
The agreement is also expected to provide customers with more code share options, competitive fares and “a more streamlined travel experience.”
“This agreement represents the next chapter in U.S.-Latin American air travel,” said Scott Kirby, United’s president. “We are excited to work with our Star Alliance partners Avianca and Copa to bring much-needed competition and growth to many underserved markets while providing a better overall experience for business and leisure customers traveling across the Western Hemisphere.”
All three airlines operate a large network of flights to the Caribbean.
“We are certain that together we are stronger in the United States – Latin America market than any of the three airlines individually,” said Hernan Rincon, Avianca’s executive president – chief executive officer. “This partnership will allow Avianca to strengthen its position as a first-level player in the airline industry in America as we will expand our scope in the continent with United and Copa, offering better connectivity to our customers.”