Panama City

VECA Airlines starts flights to Costa Rica

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VECA Airlines operates two Airbus A-319s.
VECA Airlines operates two Airbus A-319s.

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–Salvadoran Low Cost Carrier (LCC) VECA Airlines landed at Juan Santamaria International Airport last February 27th. The airline will operate three times a week a flight from Guatemala City via San Salvador with an Airbus A-319 for 144 passengers in one single class. The airline is expected to offer excellent fares and compete with both Avianca and COPA Airlines. In 2009 the Colombian airline Avianca purchased GRUPO TACA and for a while the new airline operated as AviancaTACA but in 2013 the airline changed its name again to just Avianca. The Central American communities in the United States and Canada lost the emotional connection they used to have with the Salvadorian flag carrier that started in 1931 and now expect VECA Airlines to fill the void. Non official versions insist that VECA Airlines will start flights to Baltimore, New York, Houston and Los Angeles by the end of 2015 or beginning of 2016. The airline’s web site http://www.vecaairlines.com shows future services to Panama City from San Salvador.

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Second U.S. Gateway for TAME

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QUITO, Ecuador–Ecuadorian flag carrier TAME has informed that in April, it will start Quito-Fort Lauderdale-Quito flights. This will be the second U.S. gateway for TAME (the airline already operates to New York-JFK). Fernando Guerrero, the General Manager of the airline is revamping its schedule, hoping to convert Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport in a connecting hub. The flights from Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and Lima will easily connect in Quito to New York-JFK, Fort Lauderdale and Havana, Cuba. The airline also analyzes if to suspend its flights to Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport for six months as load factors are around 50%. Also TAME has a code sharing agreement with the Panamanian airline COPA Airlines. Guerrero is planning to adjust TAME’s actual structure to the growth the airline has had in the last years, becoming the most important carrier of the country. At the moment more international routes are just in planning analysis like Quito-San Jose, Costa Rica. Last May Avianca’s TACA Airlines suspended its operations connecting the Ecuadorian capital with San Jose opening the opportunity for TAME’s operation to the Costa Rican capital.

TAME of Ecuador will start flights between Quito and Fort Lauderdale in April.
TAME of Ecuador will start flights between Quito and Fort Lauderdale in April.

Central American Airport Competition

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–The year 2014 will be the year of airport competition in Central America. As Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport attracts more airlines (the latest are Air France and TAP Portugal), the rest of the Central American airports will gear up to compete for the “second position”. San Jose’s  Juan Santamaria International Airport (probably the most modern of the region) suffered in May the unfortunate dismantling of old LACSA’s  hub. Juan Santamaria International Airport (JSIA) is just another point-to-point station in the Avianca route system, as practically all U.S. non-stop operations were transferred to El Salvador’s Comalapa International Airport. But AERIS, the private company that manages JSIA is focusing in 2014 to attract new airlines from South America, Europe, Russia and even Asia. AERIS will start the second phase of its expansion that includes several more gates that can handle wide-body aircraft like Airbus A-340-600 and B-747. The gate area will grow double in space by 2017. JSIA will become the hub for Costa Rican start-up Ticos Air.  CORIPORT S.A., the company that manages the other Costa Rican international terminal, Liberia’s Daniel Oduber International Airport  in the Guanacaste province hopes to also attract new customers like Southwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines. The Honduran government is hoping to jump start the project for Tegucigalpa’s new international airport in Palmerola, in order to finally shut down the second most dangerous airport in the world: Toncontin. The government in Tegucigalpa hopes  also to upgrade the infraestructure of San Pedro-Sula, Roatan Island and La Ceiba Airports. Managua’s Augusto Cesar Sandino International Airport and Belize City International Airport at the moment have no expansion projects. In 2014 El Salvador’s Comalapa International Airport will see the start of  construction. CEPA (the government agency that manages the airport) hopes to turn the air terminal in the most modern airport in Central America. The new Salvadorian low cost carrier VECA Airlines has chosen Comalapa International Airport to be its main hub.

Guatemala City's La Aurora International Airport is one of the most under used terminals of the region.
Guatemala City’s La Aurora International Airport is one of the most under used terminals of the region.

 Finally the Guatemalan government hopes to bring more airline clients to the modern La Aurora International Airport that after its remodeling is totally under used. The growth of tourism in the area will be the trigger for the international airports to modernize and expand.