Star Alliance has grown again today, with the addition of Avianca/TACA and Copa to the alliance. With TAM’s future in the alliance in question, Star has ensured that it maintains a vital presence in the growing Central and South American markets. For frequent flyer point collectors, the generous award space on these new carriers will be a welcome juxtaposition to the dearth of award space that TAM has offered of late.
Here a brief (sugarcoated) profile of each airline:
Avianca, first airline founded in the American continent, will celebrate 93 years of providing uninterrupted aerial services by the end of 2012. The airline connects Colombia and South America with the world and is recognized by its high technical, operational, and service standards. In October 2009, it announced the integration with the Central American TACA, making since then a part of the AviancaTaca Holding company.
Avianca has more than 8.000 direct collaborators with a fleet composed of 62 modern short, medium, and long haul aircraft. The organization is run by an enabled and professional team, that operates direct flights from Bogota, capital city of Colombia to 26 cities within the country and 30 cities in America and Europe. From its hub in Bogota, the airline offers an average of 368 daily flights.
TACA Airlines unites the American continent through its three hubs (El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Peru) and a wide route network that serves from Canada to Brazil, 51 destinations distributed in 22 countries. Its fleet is composed of Airbus 319, 320, and 321 aircrafts and new Embraer 190.
Founded in 1931 and with a history that spans more than 80 years, TACA has made a priority of continuously working on its Customer Service strategy by systematically listening to its clients and adapting to their needs, striving for excellence throughout the delivered flight experience. As a result of these efforts TACA has been recognized three consecutive years by Skytrax, one of the most respected world-wide passenger airline surveys, as the Best Airline for Central America, and the Caribbean and for its Service Excellence.
This Latin American airline consolidated an alliance with Avianca from Colombia, through the joint creation of a new holding company. Combined, Avianca and TACA, serve more than 100 destinations in America and Europe and offer the most complete route network in Latin America. Both airlines work on consolidating processes and continue to harness synergy opportunities that will better serve their passengers.
Copa Airlines was founded in 1947 as Compañía Panameña de Aviación, the national airline of Panama. In 1980, the airline withdrew from the domestic market to focus on its international reach and is today a leading Latin American provider of passenger and cargo services.
In 1998, a strategic alliance was formed with Continental Airlines and in 1999 launched its new brand as Copa Airlines and adopted the OnePass® frequent flyer program. In 2005, Copa Airlines, a subsidiary of Copa Holdings S.A., began trading on the New York Stock Exchange, becoming the third Latin American airline to be listed on this important exchange.
Copa Airlines provides service to the main destinations in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean with one of the youngest and most modern fleets in the industry, consisting of Boeing 737NG aircraft and Embraer-190s.
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While I have not flown Copa before, I have traveled on both Avianca and TACA. In fact, my recent trip to Cuba was on TACA. Both airlines are decent–I look forward to flying with them again and I know they will be a valuable addition to the Alliance.
Avianca serves Madrid, so there will be a new way to get to Europe from North America, via Bogota. All three have route networks spanning deep into South America, so look for more ways than ever before to use your Star Alliance points to go south.
Copa is a pretty good airline as far as Central American travel goes. They are EXACTLY like the old Continental (thanks to CO owning a portion of them for the last decade +). Meals at meal time, pillows and blankets, and free alcohol in coach. Here’s a review from a recent trip from LAX to PTY in ECO http://upgrd.com/blogs/doublewidesfly/trip-report-copa-airlines-lax-to-pty.html