Air Panama

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This article is about the current airline. For the 1968-1990 airline of a similar name, see Air Panamá Internacional.
Air Panama
Air Panama 2008 Logo.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1980 (as PARSA)
Hubs Albrook "Marcos A. Gelabert" International Airport
Focus cities Enrique Malek International Airport
Frequent-flyer program Todos Quieren Volar
Fleet size 20
Destinations 24
Company slogan We Are Flying!
(Estamos Volando!)
Parent company PARSA, S.A.
Headquarters Albrook "Marcos A. Gelabert" International Airport
Key people George Novey
(President and CEO)[1]

Air Panama (formerly Turismo Aéreo) is a regional airline based at Albrook "Marcos A. Gelabert" International Airport in Panama,[2] and is currently the second largest airline in the country, surpassed only by Copa Airlines. The carrier offers scheduled and charter passenger flights to 24 destinations from its hub at Gelabert International Airport, mostly on domestic routes with low passenger volumes.

Currently, the airline employs more than 300 people.



An Air Panama Fokker 70 aircraft.

The airline was founded in 1980 as PARSA, though certain services were operated as Turismo Aéreo. At the time of its start-up, Panama had been ruled by a military dictatorship government since 1968 and the financial situation of the country was critical.

However, together with Aeroperlas and Mapiex Aereo, the airline became one of the biggest regional airlines in the country. On December 20, 1989, during the United States invasion of Panama, two Britten-Norman Islander aircraft owned by PARSA that were grounded due to the suspension of revenue service in the country were damaged beyond repair in fighting actions. Despite this, the airline expanded rapidly to other destinations around Panama and Costa Rica during the 1990s, and began to acquire newer aircraft.

On New Year's Eve 1997, the airline suffered its first fatal accident, when a Britten-Norman Islander crashed into the jungle 6.5 kilometres short of Rio Sidra Airport, Darien, killing all on board.

In January 1999, PARSA moved its headquarters to the new Albrook - "Marcos A. Gelabert" International Airport, when the old airport located in Paitilla was shut down after 70 years of operation. In 2005, the Air Panama trademark rights were acquired. The name had been unused since the demise of Air Panamá Internacional in January 1990, and the new name was formally adopted that year.

Expansion Years[edit]

An Air Panama Twin Otter (2008)

After the purchase of the trademark rights in 2005, George Novey unveiled in a Fokker F27 aircraft the airline's new corporate identity under the Air Panama name. Shortly after, the airline introduced new scheduled services to other regional destinations around Panama and it began to acquire modern turboprop aircraft, such as the Saab 340 and the Bombardier Dash 8-300 series, in order to replace the aging fleet of British Aerospace Jetstream 31 and Fokker F27 Friendship aircraft.

In 2009, Air Panama made a historic milestone when it transported more than a million passengers. That same year, the airline entered the jet age when it acquired two Fokker 70s. In 2011, the company acquired two Fokker 50s owned by Scandinavian Airlines System and transported around 172,154 people.

On January 2012, Air Panama announced a codeshare agreement with Copa Airlines, Panama's flag carrier and largest airline, linking all tourist destinations within Panama with those in Latin America. The agreement became effective five months later when the company started charter regional flights to Isla Colon from Tocumen International Airport.[3]

An Air Panama Boeing 737-300 taxiing at Rio Hato Airport

On February 29, 2012, domestic competitor Aeroperlas Regional ceased operations due to financial problems, leaving Air Panama as the sole regional carrier in the country.[4] In the same month, the company planned to open a new non-stop international route from Panama to the Cayman Islands (located in the western Caribbean Sea) using jet-powered aircraft. As of February 2015, the service is awaiting government approval.[5][6] In anticipation, the airline ordered two Fokker 100s, receiving the first one in June and the second two months later. Furthermore, Air Panama filled the gap left by the Aeroperlas bankruptcy almost six months earlier by taking the rest of the routes left by the defunct company.[7]

On November 2012, Air Panama launched an updated version of its website (, with a new operational system that allows travelers to purchase tickets in real time, and see the flight schedules and status. It was the first time that the airline made an extensive overhaul to its website since its official re-branding in 2006.

In 2013, Air Panama subsequently sold the two Fokker 70s, in favour of more spacious Fokker 100s. In August of the same year, the airline received its first of two Boeing 737-300 ordered as part of a strategic expansion plan into the international market. Three months later, on November 8, Air Panama received its second Boeing 737 aircraft.[8]

In 2015, the airline received two more Fokker 100 aircraft.


Air Panama offers scheduled regional flights to 20 destinations inside Panama and one in Costa Rica and two in Colombia. Further destinations are served on a chartered on-demand basis during the summer travelling season.


As of December 2014, the Air Panama fleet consists of the following aircraft:[9][10]

Air Panama Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
J Y Total
Boeing 737-300QC 2 -
Britten-Norman Islander 4 -
Cessna 182 1 -
Cessna 208 Caravan 2 -
Fokker 50 4 -

Fokker 100 5 -
Piper PA-34 Seneca 1 -
Total 20 -

Aircraft types previously operated by Air Panama: BAe Jetstream 32, Fokker F27 Friendship (passenger and cargo), Bombardier Dash 8-300, Fokker 70, Saab 340B, de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

During its history, Air Panama (PARSA) had the following incidents and accidents:

Air Panama Reported Incidents
Flight Date Aircraft Location Description Casualties
Fatal Serious Minor Uninjured Ground
N/A[11] December 31, 1997 Britten-Norman Islander near Rio Sidra Airport, Darien On New Year Eve 1997 at 07:45 local time, a PARSA Britten-Norman Islander (registered HP-986PS) crashed into a jungle area 6.5 kilometres short of Rio Sidra Airport following a flight from Panama City in bad weather conditions. All nine passengers and the pilot lost their lives. It was the first crash since the foundation of the company in 1980. 10 0 0 0 0
N/A[12] December 29, 2002 Britten-Norman Islander Over the Caribbean Sea, near Bocas Del Toro On 29 December 2002 at 16:06 local time, ATC lost contact with a PARSA Britten-Norman Islander (registered HP-1016PS) during an empty ferry flight from Bocas del Toro to Panama City, when the aircraft was over the Caribbean Sea. The aircraft and its pilot were never found. 1 0 0 0 0
680[13] June 1, 2006 Jetstream 31 Bocas del Toro "Isla Colón" International Airport On 1 June 2006 at 07:55 local time, a British Aerospace Jetstream (registered HP-1477PST) skidded and overshot the runway upon landing in heavy rain at Bocas del Toro "Isla Colón" International Airport after completing a scheduled flight from Panama City. The aircraft was substantially damaged, but all 16 passengers and two crew members walked out from the wreckage without any injuries. The plane was written off. 0 0 0 16 0
980[14] October 31, 2007 Fokker F27-200 Albrook "Marcos A. Gelabert" International Airport On 31 October 2007 at 20:40 UTC, a Fokker F27 Friendship (registered HP-1541PST) bound for Bocas del Toro "Isla Colón" International Airport for a scheduled passenger flight, crashed back on the runway at Albrook "Marcos A. Gelabert" International Airport due to lack of power from the engines. All nine passengers and four crew member survived without injuries and walked out from the wreckage. The aircraft was written off. 0 0 0 9 0


  1. ^ "Management". Air Panama. 
  2. ^ "Contact us." Air Panama. Retrieved on April 18, 2012. "Marcos A. Gelabert, Airport- Main Office" and "Air Panama - Panama Travel Expert. Panama Tourism. Aeropuerto Marcos A. Gelabert, Albrook Panama, Republic of Panama."
  3. ^ "Conectarán Isla Colón con Latinoamérica". La Prensa. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  4. ^ "Aeroperlas Shuts Down - As Of Today". Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ "Air Panamá continuará sola en el mercado". La Prensa. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  8. ^ "NOTICIAS". Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  9. ^ "Air Panama fleet list at the Aero Transport Database". Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  10. ^ "AirPanama – Discover The Best Travel Destinations For Vacation, Business And Tourism In Panama - Costa Rica- Colombia". Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  11. ^ "1997 PARSA crash at the Aviation Safety Network". Retrieved July 4, 2012. 
  12. ^ "2002 PARSA crash at the Aviation Safety Network". Retrieved July 4, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Air Panama 2006 accident at the Aviation Safety Network". Retrieved July 4, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Air Panama 2007 accident at the Aviation Safety Network". Retrieved July 4, 2012. 

External links[edit]