Copa Airlines (NYSE:CPA) and Boeing (NYSE: BA) announced on Friday, a $6.6 billion US dollar (based on Boeing’s published list prices) order for 61 737 MAX-8 and MAX-9 airplanes, making it the largest commercial transaction between a Panamanian and United States company ever. U.S. President Barack Obama and Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez witnessed the signing ceremony that took place in Panama City as leaders from throughout the Western Hemisphere gathered for the seventh Summit of the Americas.
“Copa is proud to sign this landmark order in the presence of our countries’ two presidents,” said Copa CEO Pedro Heilbron. “The Next-Generation 737 is the backbone for our fleet today, and our order for the 737 MAX shows our continued commitment to the future, to bring people together across all of the Americas using the most modern and efficient airplanes in the sky, as well as our Hub of the Americas in Panama City.”
PHOTO: US President Barack Obama and Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela look on as (seated, l to r) David Joyce, President of GE Aviation, Jim McNerney, CEO and Chairman of Boeing, Stanley Motta, Chairman of Copa Holdings, and Copa CEO Pedro Heilbron signed documents recognizing the agreement. (Courtesy Copa Airlines)
Boeing currently reports 2,715 737 MAX orders from 57 customers globally. This order had previously been listed as “unidentified” on Boeing’s Orders and Deliveries website. Motta added that “with the 737 MAX our customers will enjoy all the benefits of the best technology available in the market. This order is an important step in strengthening Copa’s leadership in the region as we enhance our world-class product and expand our network. Similarly, we are very excited about bringing new opportunities for Panama’s economic growth in the process.”
Copa Airlines will phase out existing aircraft in its fleet, replacing them with the newer planes, and supporting the carrier’s plans for long term growth. Copa will be the first airline in the region to operate the 737 MAX-9 on long-distance South American routes. According to the carrier, the 737 MAX-9’s range and passenger configurations are well suited to Copa’s long-haul route network.
“It is an honor to be joined by Presidents Varela and Obama on this great day. All of us at Boeing are proud to partner with Copa as it works to remain one of the most progressive airlines in the world,” said McNerney. “Copa has a history of leading the way for Latin America’s aviation industry, and this order shows their dedication to continuous improvement in performance, customer satisfaction and efficiency.”
Boeing’s 737 MAX employs General Electric’s CFM International LEAP-1B engines, as well as redesigned winglets and other improvements to deliver increased efficiency in the single-aisle airliner market. Airlines operating the 737 MAX are expected to see a 14% improvement in fuel consumption over the most fuel-efficient single-aisle airplanes in the current market, and 20% better than the original Next-Generation 737s when they entered service. The 737 MAX-8 is projected to have an 8% operating cost per seat advantage over the competitive Airbus A320neo.
The 737 MAX series also features the new Boeing Sky Interior, which Copa has launched in Latin America on its Next-Generation 737 fleet. The interior features an upgraded cabin with more headroom and LED lighting that offers several color options.