Panama Airport enters Top 10 world air hubs

December 30, 2021 – Panama Airport enters the Top 10 of world air hubs

Panama City’s Airport, Tocumen, jumped from 20th to 7th place among the air hubs with the highest international traffic when comparing 2019 with 2021. Tocumen airport tripled its influence in this period, according to the ranking prepared by the consultancy ForwardKeys, based on the analysis of air ticket reservation figures.

In 2019, Panama airport mobilized 1.2% of global international air connections and was in 20th place in the ranking of the largest air hubs prepared by ForwardKeys. It was the only Latin American airport on the list and occupied a prominent position, closing the Top 20, and not far from giants such as Seoul, Moscow or Singapore.

The pandemic has totally transformed the aerial map in less than two years. Hong Kong, for example, was in 7th place in 2019 and disappeared from this year’s list; London dropped from 9 to 14 and Abu Dhabi fell from 10 to 16.

Panama had the most dizzying ascent with its jump from 20th to 7th place. And much more if you take into account that in the first six places the same airports are maintained, although the order has changed. In Europe, Amsterdam overtook Frankfurt. And in the Middle East, Doha is now ahead of Dubai, albeit with very even figures that have caused them to alternate depending on the month.

The truth is that air traffic is much more concentrated today than it was two years ago. Not only does America account for Panama’s growth, but Mexico City entered the list in 17th place, and three U.S. airports also now occupy places in the Top 20: Miami (15), Dallas Fort Worth (19) and Houston (20).

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Ranking of international air hubs. Graphic: ForwardKeys.

Panama’s airport’s strategic advantage was compounded by the growing trend of travel between the U.S., the Caribbean, Central and South America.

In addition, Copa Airlines – the Panamanian company based in Tocumen – was one of the large Latin American airlines that faced the crisis best and the only one of the big four that should not have gone to Chapter 11 of the US Justice (such as LATAM, Avianca and Aeromexico).

Regional travel

The decline of long-distance travel in favor of intraregional travel also explains Panama’s rise.

According to ForwardKeys data, in 2019, the proportion of intraregional and extra-regional travel was 56% to 44%; a proportion that was accentuated to 62% versus 38% in 2021.

“The pattern has also changed, with a higher proportion of people in Europe and America travelling intraregionally rather than long distances,” she said.

Panama Figures

Tocumen International Airport mobilized almost 8 million passengers between January and November 2021 – the vast majority in connections – reflecting the “progressive reactivation and above forecasts” of its operations, HOSTELTUR reported last week.

During the first 11 months of 2021, a total of 7,967,142 passengers have passed through Panama Airport.

November was the second month in a row with a movement of more than one million travelers (1,089,773) since the beginning of the pandemic, according to airport statistics.

South America leads the markets with the highest passenger traffic through Tocumen with a 45% share, followed by North America with 32.1%; Central America with 9.8%; the Caribbean with 8.5% and Europe with 4.6%.

Between January and November, 78,381 departures and arrivals operations were registered, with 19 commercial airlines that have reactivated their operations with direct flights to 68 destinations, reported the Tocumen International Airport S.A. (AITSA).

The general manager of Tocumen, Raffoul Arab, together with leaders of ALTA and AIC-LAC.

“This has been a progressive revival based on the confidence of airlines and travelers, driven by progress in vaccination processes and by the relaxation of entry requirements to countries,” said Tocumen International Airport General Manager Raffoul Arab.

The AITSA stressed that according to the most recent report of the International Air Transport Association(IATA),“Panama has recovered 85% of its pre-pandemic connectivity to North America, Europe, as well as its intraregional traffic, surpassing countries that never closed their skies such as the United States and Brazil.”

Other regions

In the battle of hubs, Doha (Qatar) overtook Dubai (United Arab Emirates) to become the busiest airport in the Middle East. Doha connects air traffic between South Asia, the Middle East, North America and sub-Saharan Africa.

In Europe, Amsterdam closed the gap with Frankfurt and surpassed it for intra-European transits and connections with North America.

Tocumen continues to inaugurate connections: new Delta routes from the US this week.

Before the pandemic, in 2019, the list of the top 10 global airports was topped by Dubai with a market share of 7.7% of intercontinental flight connections. It was followed by Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Doha, Istanbul, Paris, Hong Kong, Munich, London and Abu Dhabi.

In 2021, it was led by Amsterdam, with an 8.3% share of intercontinental flight connections.

Analysis of monthly traffic in 2021 shows that Amsterdam briefly overtook Frankfurt in September and October, but retreated in November. In the same month, Dubai regained its lead over Doha for the first time since February.

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