Panama has good air connections with destinations throughout the Americas and parts of the Caribbean and Western Europe.
Travel to and from anywhere farther east, including Australia and Asia, is more complicated and will probably require at least one change of plane and/or airline. Generally, few European and no Asian, African, Middle Eastern, or Australian airlines offer passenger service to Panama.
Note: The information in this section is particularly subject to change. Carriers add and drop service to Panama frequently. However, routes dropped by one airline are generally picked up by another.
In mid-2004, Panama regained its “Category 1” International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) rating following an inspection by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. This means Panama’s civil aviation authority again meets all international safety standards (its ratings slipped in 2001), which paved the way for new flights to the United States.
Carriers serving Panama include:
- U.S. airlines:
- European airlines:
- Central American and Caribbean airlines:
LACSA (operated by TACA, www.taca.com)
- South American airlines:
Aero República (operated by Copa, www.copaair.com)
Most of the airlines have so-called “code share” agreements with other carriers, meaning flights booked on one airline may actually be operated by a partner airline that’s supposed to meet similar standards of quality and safety. For instance, Copa, Panama’s national airline, has code share agreements with several airlines, including a well-established alliance with Continental Airlines and a new one with KLM. Copa’s own fleet, fairly large by Latin American standards, flies to 40 destinations in 21 countries. It’s a growing airline with a good reputation.
Grupo TACA, a consortium of major Central American airlines that includes El Salvador’s TACA and Costa Rica’s LACSA, has code share agreements with a number of carriers, including United Airlines, Air France, Iberia, Lufthansa, and Avianca. Grupo TACA also has an alliance with Panama’s largest domestic airline, Aeroperlas.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition