Give a short account of the history of the company, and trace the evolution of its strategy. Try to
determine whether the strategic evolution of your company is the product of intended strategies,
emergent strategies, or some combination of the two:
article and the company's
on its Web site:
Copa Airlines began in 1944 under the name of Compania Panamena de Aviacion (COPA) as a
post-war corporate creation of the Panamanian government. A small group of Panamanian investors
started the company with aid from the U.S. company Pan America which held 32% of the company. The
Panamanian government's emergent strategy was to use war surplus Douglas DC-3 and DC-47 transport
planes for domestic feeder service to major airports used by Pan America. The company began flying
planes on August 15, 1947 with domestic flights to three cities within the Republic of Panama, with a
fleet of three Douglas C-47 airplanes.
In the 1960s, Copa Airlines had saturated the Panamanian domestic market and had excess
capital. As such, the company began acquiring Hawker Siddeley turboprops and Lockheed Electras and
started flying internationally to the Caribbean and Colombia. In the 1970's, Copa added Guatemala as a
destination and eliminated the less profitable domestic flights, thus becoming purely an international
airline. In 1971, Pan American sold their share of Copa to avoid conflicts of interest. A group of local
investors acquired Copa Airlines, making it a Panamanian company.
Between 1980 and 1990, Copa management took steps to expand the service area of the Latin
American market. Copa Airlines acquired its first B737-100 aircraft and added flights to Cartagena,
Colombia; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and
Miami, Florida. In 1986, Copa Airlines became part of Compania de Inversiones Aereas SA (CIASA).
(Today, some members of the Copa Airlines board remain part of CIASA.) Between 1986 and 1988, the
Motta Group acquired majority control of Copa Airlines and brought Pedro Heilbron into the company as
Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The new management began making improvements to compete with Air
Panama. This marked a transition era for the company, a watershed event in which the company moved
from reactive to proactive, i.e. from emergent strategies to intended strategies. In 1989, the United States
invaded Panama to depose Manuel Noriega. This led to the collapse of Air Panama and cleared the way
for Copa Airlines to grow.
The ensuing decade of the 1990s saw the astounding rise of Copa Airlines.
The company added