Austin’s aviation boom continues, with new Copa flights to Central America

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Flyers based in Austin will have a new option for traveling to Latin America this summer.

Copa Airlines plans to launch nonstop flights between Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) and Panama Tocumen International Airport (PTY) in Panama City, giving the Star Alliance carrier its 15th U.S. route.

With a new route from Austin, passengers can connect to 55 Latin American cities through Copa’s “Hub of the Americas” at PTY.

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Copa, based in Panama City, already operates flights from cities such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. More recently, the airline announced it would begin nonstop flight service from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) to Panama City on June 28.

Since Copa is a member of the Star Alliance, passengers can earn and use miles with any of the 26 partner airlines, such as United Airlines, Lufthansa or Air Canada. Plus, flyers with Star Alliance Gold status can receive benefits like priority boarding and airport lounge access.

The flag carrier of Panama will operate four weekly flights from Austin on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Flights will depart from Panama at 9:18 a.m. and arrive in Austin at 2:04 p.m. Returning flights will take off from Austin at 3:34 p.m. and land in Panama at 8:16 p.m.

The new service also continues a boom for Austin’s airport, which has emerged as one of the nation’s hottest aviation markets in recent years. Carriers like Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Allegiant Air and Southwest Airlines have all aggressively grown schedules there. Several overseas airlines — such as KLM and Virgin Atlantic — have also added high-profile new routes there.

“This exciting announcement has been years in the making,” Jacqueline Yaft, the CEO of AUS, said in a statement. “This route will provide economic and tourism benefits for generations to come.”

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