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.