COOPESA inaugurates new hangar for first 737-800 freighter conversion center in Latin America

Cooperativa de Servicios Aero Industriales RL (Coopesa), located at Alajuela International Airport, which serves San Jose (SJO), in Costa Rica, inaugurated its fourth hangar, which will increase its capacity to perform maintenance tasks and, its main purpose, to establish a second conversion line for Boeing 737-800 aircraft from passenger to freighter.

The company, founded in 1963, is an FAA- and EASA-certified Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) aeronautical services provider serving airlines in the Americas and global leasing companies with a staff of more than 800 employees.

The new hangar will give it the possibility to receive 15 more aircraft per year, meaning an additional revenue of approximately USD 5 million per year.

During the first half of 2022, COOPESA serviced 88 aircraft of the Airbus A320ceo/neo family, Boeing 737 Next Generation/MAX and Embraer 190/195. It also received the first Airbus A320neo aircraft from SKY and JetSMART for Check-C.

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To support the company’s growth, the Instituto de Fomento Cooperativo de Costa (INFOCOOP) Rica granted a CRC 600 million (USD 900,000) loan in 2021 from the Fondo Nacional de Autogestión for working capital.

According to INFOCOOP, this new hangar will make it possible to generate more than 400 jobs over the next three years.

In May 2021, Boeing signed an agreement with Coopesa to convert Boeing 737-800 passenger aircraft into cargo aircraft (BCF), due to the high demand for the increase in e-commerce and shipping of supplies worldwide, being the first conversion center of the model in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The manufacturer forecasts that 1,500 freighter conversions will be needed over the next 20 years to meet the growing demand for this type of aircraft. Of these, 1,080 will be standard body conversions, with almost 30% of that demand coming from North and Latin America.

Although the agreement between COOPESA and the North American company is to convert 40 aircraft in five years, the cooperative expects to double that number. To achieve this, it plans to systematize and carry out the process faster as it is a single aircraft model and at the same time expand capacity with the construction of a new facility.

«The exit of the pandemic doubled the demand for the cooperative, since those aircraft that were sent to the desert to park during the pandemic, must by regulation undergo a maintenance check before returning to commercial or cargo operations, which allowed us to sell the total capacity of the cooperative a year in advance,» said Kenneth Waugh.

COOPESA also contributes to the Costa Rican community by training vulnerable young people to enter the industry as aviation technicians, with more than 4,000 people having passed through the company since it was founded.

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