Copa Airlines sounded an optimistic note in its latest quarterly reporting, suggesting Tocumen International Airport’s role as the “Hub of the Americas” will give Panama and the airline a strategic advantage as the world reopens.
“Going forward, the Company believes that its Hub of the Americas will be an even more valuable source of strategic advantage, especially if fewer intra Latin America markets can sustain direct point to point service,” the company said in its statement. “We believe our hub will be the best positioned to serve these markets.”
Copa predicted travel will continue to grow in the near term, with the airline expecting 2.9 billion available seat miles (ASMs) in the second quarter, which is about 45 percent of the ASMs of the comparable quarter in 2019. But that is up from the first quarter when the airline flew only 39 percent of the capacity available before the pandemic.
The airlines are expecting an unprecedented surge in leisure travel through the second half of 2021, but other aspects of the business will likely continue to struggle. Business travel is expected to be slow to recover, as more companies acknowledge that remote communication can save time and money.
Copa made it clear that despite a net loss of $110.7million for the quarter, its well-positioned as the region recovers. Cash consumption of $23 million per month for the quarter was “below the Company’s original expectations.”
The company also has more than $1.5 billion in liquidity, which was aided by the recent sale of older planes. Copa’s cash balance actually increased by more than $200 million in the quarter. Four Embraer 190 aircraft “exited the fleet” and four more Embraer 190 aircraft will be sold in the second quarter, the company announced. During the quarter, Copa took delivery of 6 Boeing 737MAX9s, as it continues to upgrade its fleet. The airline ended the quarter with 81 aircraft, down from 102 at the end of the first quarter of 2020.
“The Company expects to leverage its strong balance sheet, leading liquidity position and lower cost base to continue strengthening its long-term competitive position and to implement initiatives to further strengthen its network and production in the post-Covid-19 world,” Copa said in its report.
Copa emphasized the pace of recovery is still linked to the global emergence from the pandemic, but the company remains in a strong position. The airline didn’t offer investors specific financial guidance for the second half of the year, but did say that if the COVID recovery holds, “we expect this could lead to the relaxation of travel restrictions, a faster demand recovery, and larger capacity deployment in the second half of the year.”