Copa Airlines (CM, Panamá City Tocumen Int'l) has announced in its quarterly earnings report that it has agreed with Boeing to accelerate the delivery of twelve B737-9s by as much as three years.

The Panamanian airline said two of the dozen aircraft will be delivered in 2022 and the remaining ten between 2023 and 2025. Initially, all twelve were due in and beyond 2025.

On top of thirteen B737-9s already delivered, Copa Airlines currently has 41 outstanding B737 MAX orders. While the order comprises twelve B737-8s, fourteen -9s, and fifteen -10s, the Panamanian carrier said it had flexibility in choosing the variants. It expects a further two deliveries in 2021 to end the year with fifteen -9s. Including the newly accelerated deliveries, the carrier will take seven MAX 9s in 2022.

During the earnings call, Chief Executive Pedro Heilbron said that one of the upsides of the growing MAX fleet was the improved premium product. Copa Airlines' MAX 9s have 16 lie-flat business class seats, as opposed to recliner seats in the B737NGs, which have allowed the airline to increase fares for connecting flights via Panamá City Tocumen Int'l.

"We have been getting a premium for the Dreams [B737 MAX business class] product. And also, I should say that our costs are better than options through other hubs or non-stop options when they are - they're usually not that many. So, we can do well, even pricing it below what was available before for a similar product," he explained.

Copa Airlines also operates sixty-eight B737-800s, including 61 operated by the mainline carrier and seven by its Colombian subsidiary Copa Airlines Colombia, which operates under the low-cost carrier brand Wingo (Colombia). In its annual report for 2020, the airline said it would retire six B737-800s by the end of 2022. It did not provide an update concerning the pace of retirements during its most recent quarterly earnings. Finally, the carrier's fleet also comprises six owned B737-700s, which Copa Airlines decided to retain to increase its flexibility in light of the unpredictable speed of market recovery.