Ticket bargain time for flights to Colombia, Costa Rica

IF YOU ARE a Panamanian resident looking to explore Colombia or Costa Rica now’s the time to by your Ticket as air fares in the region continue to tumble. The devaluation of the principle Latin American currencies has forced airlines to reduce ticket prices due to the fall in purchasing power in the region.

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Companies wishing to encourage travelers to fly to Panama, have been forced to lower their prices, and the benefits affect Panamanians flying the other way.

In some cases, such as travel to Colombia, ticket prices have dropped   between 30% and 70% depending on the season and time of purchase reports La Prensa.

But the downward trend is not only the result of the currency market. The penetration of several airlines into Panama has pushed companies to  drastically lower rates in order to keep travelers.

For example, on  Copa Airlines a year ago,  a round trip ticket to Bogota or Medellin was about $700. Today it can can be bought for under $250. AirPanama and  VivaColombia,are  competing with Copa Airlines in the Colombian market, with rates from $100.

VivaColombia, the company has restrictions on the number of bags that a passenger, can carry  and charges  an additional fee for extra luggage.

Ernesto Reina, president of the Panamanian Association of Travel and Tourism (APAVIT) said that the fall in airfare prices  has increased since September.

Juan Emilio Posada, VivaColombia manager said that since August 2014, when the company began flying to Panama, prices on flights to Bogota and Medellin have fallen 65%.

But while airlines are cutting prices the board of Tocumen, SA, is jacking them up.From next January, the departure tax is $50, up $10 and at PanamaPacific, also under the control of Tocumen, the price has gone up from $20 to $36.

In addition to the reduction in regular fares, airlines are offering special prices on multiple  seats purchases per flight. These offers in the case of Copa Airlines are available through travel agents and specialized internet portals.

15 days ago, for a few minutes through the www.despegar.com page, Copa Airlines sell seats on its flights to San Jose, Costa Rica, Panama for $94 the return  journey. While promoting not include air taxes, as was far from the $ 600 it could cost a ticket on this route regularly.

Spokesmen for the Panamanian airline said the fare is customary within the industry and will vary by route and season it is.

Ursula Kiener, Head of Marketing for  AirPanama said that with  Costa Rica, the price war is not as marked as in the case of Colombia.

She said that on its flights to Colombia and Costa Rica, the airline offers packages that include airfare and lodging, which allows travelers get a discount of up to 30%, over buying both services separately.

“Healthy competition benefits the customer, because it gives you more options at better prices, but in a price war, to force  a competitor out of the market, the customer will be hurt as prices will go up again, “said Kiener.

A similar view  is held by the VivaColombia manager, who says it is better to offer low prices for some seats, than to fly an empty plane. With this premise, the company has launched a promotion for flights between February 5 and March 20, $94 in the total fare including tax for 95 flights to Bogota and Medellin.

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