United Airlines will add service between Denver and Panama City beginning on 03 December 2014 (subject to government approval). The route will run daily November through August and five times weekly during the rainy season in September and October. A 737-700 will be used on the route with 12 seats in business class, 40 in Economy Plus, and 66 in economy.
News of the impending route announcement was hyped as a “game-changer” by the Denver media and bets were on the resumption of London service, leading many to disappointment when Panama City was announced. But there should be no disappointment over this announcement.
It is true that the service on this 2631-mile flight will only be on a domestically-configured aircraft with no lie-flat business class seat and that Panama City is easily available via Houston, which DEN-PTY will flyover anyway, but I think those complaining that the new route is not exotic enough should be thankful that United is adding rather than subtracting service from its new smallest hub.
I fear for Denver’s hub status and thus this route announcement is good news for DEN-based travelers. Panama City is home to Copa Airlines which offers a comprehensive route network with competitive prices and generous award availability to many major cities in Central and South America. With TAM out of Star Alliance, reliance on Copa (as well as Avianca/TACA) for service into Central and South America is even more important.
So while not a “game-changer” this route announcement is good news and I hope that it performs as well as the 787 Denver – Tokyo Narita flights seem to be performing.