Panama-based Copa Holdings Ltd. had a robust 2019 second quarter, despite headwinds from the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX.

Copa’s net profit for the quarter came to $50.9 million, up 2.1% from $49.8 million in the year-earlier period, and a 2Q record for the company. Revenues rose 1.7% to $645 million, while RASM came in 6.3% higher at 10.5 cents.

Capacity decreased 4.3% year-over-year, all because of the MAX grounding, while RPMs only decreased 2.5%. CASM-ex fell by 5.7% to 6.2 cents.

The company had six MAX aircraft in its fleet prior to the type’s grounding in March, with plans to accept three more in the first half of 2019 and four more during the rest of the year. The carrier has removed all MAX operations from its schedule through Dec. 15.

Copa CEO Pedro Heilbron said on the company’s Aug. 8 earnings call the six idled MAXs should be back in the skies within a month after the grounding is lifted. He said the remaining MAX orders would require about three weeks from the time of delivery to go through a post-delivery modification process.

“If the MAX is ungrounded as scheduled ... we would expect to have the six flying by the end of this year, and the others we might receive would be gradually incorporated. If that coincides with our December, January and February high season, we can fly all of them,” Heilbron said. “If it’s later and it hits our low season, then we might not fly them all right away. We will make a gradual introduction.”

Copa ended the quarter with 104 aircraft, comprising 68 Boeing 737 800s, 14 737-700s and 16 Embraer E190s, in addition to the six idled MAX 9s. The company has not taken any aircraft deliveries since the March grounding of the MAX fleet.

Heilbron said that most South American markets are “showing a healthy improvement” in demand, although he said capacity was still flat or down in most markets. Regarding Argentina, he said “we’re not seeing much improvement there,” adding that it remains a headwind for the region.

Cowen analyst Helane Becker agreed in an Aug. 8 research note, writing that the demand environment in Brazil is “showing the most improvement,” whereas Argentina “is the only country still under pressure,” even in the face of easy year-over-year comparisons. In general, Becker said South America “remains healthy with demand trends continuing to improve, driving higher yields and unit revenue.”

Ben Goldstein, ben.goldstein@aviationweek.com