Category Archives: Azores Airlines

European Commission approves €133 million Portuguese liquidity support to SATA

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, €133 million in liquidity support to SATA Air Açores (SATA). The aid will allow the company to fulfil its public service obligations, provide essential services and ensure the connectivity of the Azores outermost region. At the same time, the Commission has opened an investigation to assess whether certain public support measures by Portugal in favour of the company are in line with EU rules on State aid to companies in difficulty.

 

SATA is an air transport company ultimately controlled by the Portuguese Autonomous Region of Azores. Together with another company belonging to the same group (SATA Internacional – Azores Airlines), SATA provides air transport passenger and cargo services within Azores, and from and to several national and international destinations. With respect to certain routes, it has been entrusted with a public service obligation to ensure connectivity of the islands. SATA also provides other essential services, e.g. the management and operation of five small airports in different islands of Azores.

SATA has been facing financial difficulties already before the coronavirus outbreak, i.e. on 31 December 2019. Since at least 2014, the company has been experiencing operating losses and has reported negative equity in recent years, which has been aggravated by the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. The company is currently facing urgent liquidity needs.

The Portuguese liquidity support measure

Portugal notified the Commission of its intention to grant urgent support to SATA, with the aim of providing the company with sufficient resources to address its urgent and immediate liquidity needs until the end of January 2021.

SATA is not eligible to receive support under the Commission’s State aid Temporary Framework, aimed at companies that were not already in difficulty on 31 December 2019. The Commission therefore has assessed the measure under other State aid rules, namely the 2014 Guidelines on State aid for rescue and restructuring. These enable Member States to grant temporary liquidity aid to providers of services of general economic interest to maintain and preserve essential services such as, for example air transport connectivity and airport management. This possibility is available also in case of aid granted  by the Member State to the same company in difficulty being investigated by the Commission.

The Portuguese authorities estimated that SATA’s liquidity needs for the next six months in relation to SATA’s public service obligations and essential services amount to approximately €133 million.

The Commission found that the individual aid to the company in the form of a public guarantee of up to approximately €133 million on a temporary loan strictly relates to urgent liquidity needs linked to the provision by SATA of essential services including routes subject to public service obligations and services of general economic interest at local airports. It found that the aid is necessary to allow the company to continue providing these services.

On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU State aid rules.

Opening of investigation into other support measures

Separately, the Commission has decided to open an investigation to assess whether certain public support measures in favour of SATA are in line with the 2014 Guidelines on State aid for rescue and restructuring.

As of 2017, the Autonomous Region of Azores, which wholly owns SATA, approved three capital increases to partly address the company’s capital shortfalls. Most of the amounts appear to have already been paid. The Portuguese authorities claim that the capital increases in question do not constitute State aid under EU rules as since the Regional Government of Azores, as the sole shareholder of SATA, acted as a private investor operating under market conditions.

The Commission will now investigate further if the capital increases constituted State aid that should have been notified to the Commission, and, if so, if the past support measures satisfy the conditions of the 2014 Guidelines on State aid for rescue and restructuring. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives Portugal and other interested parties an opportunity to submit comments. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.

Background

The Azores Autonomous Region is an archipelago composed of nine volcanic islands and 245,000 inhabitants. The Azores Region is considered as an outermost region of the European Union, located in the North Atlantic Ocean, about 1,400 km from mainland Portugal. The islands can be reached from the mainland in two to three days by sea or two hours by plane. The Region is dependent of air transport for passengers and cargo, especially during the winter season, when weather conditions often render maritime transport unavailable.

Under EU State aid rules, public interventions in favour of companies can be considered free of State aid when they are made on terms that a private operator would have accepted under market conditions (the market economy operator principle – MEOP). If this principle is not respected, the public interventions involve State aid within the meaning of Article 107 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, because they confer an economic advantage on the beneficiary that its competitors do not have. The assessment criteria for public interventions in companies in difficulty are set out in the 2014 Guidelines on State aid for rescue and restructuring..

Under the Commission’s 2014 Guidelines on State aid for rescue and restructuring, companies in financial difficulty may receive State aid provided they meet certain conditions. Aid may be granted for a period of up to six months (“rescue aid”). Beyond this period, the aid must either be reimbursed or a restructuring plan must be notified to the Commission for the aid to be approved (“restructuring aid”). The plan must ensure that the long-term viability of the company is restored without further State support, that the company contributes to an adequate level to the costs of its restructuring and that distortions of competition created by the aid are addressed through compensatory measures.

By ensuring compliance with these conditions, the Commission maintains fair and effective competition between different companies in the air transport market, like in other sectors.

Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union recognises the specific constraints of the outermost regions and provides for the adoption of specific measures in EU legislation to help these regions address the major challenges they face due to their remoteness, insularity, small size, difficult topography and climate, and economic dependence on a reduced number of products.

 

Azores Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

Azores Airlines aircraft slide show:

https://airlinersgallery.smugmug.com/frame/slideshow?key=PK8ZRT&speed=3&transition=fade&autoStart=1&captions=0&navigation=0&playButton=0&randomize=0&transitionSpeed=2

Air France and Azores Airlines sign a code-share agreement

Air France and Azores Airlines made this announcement:

Thanks to a code-share agreement between Air France and Sata Azores Airlines, customers of both airlines now enjoy new travel opportunities to the Portuguese Azores islands on departure from Paris-Charles de Gaulle via Lisbon and Porto (Portugal): Ponta Delgada, Terceira, Santa Maria, Horta and Pico.

Starting January 27, 2020, customers can now book their flight between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and one of the destinations in the Azores and travel on the date of their choice.

Air France is adding its marketing code to Sata Azores Airlines-operated flights, by Airbus A320 and A321 on departure from Lisbon and Porto to Ponta Delgada, Terceira, Santa Maria, Horta and Pico.

As part of this mutual agreement, Sata Azores Airlines is adding its marketing code to Air France-operated flights, by Airbus A319, A320 and A321, on departure from Lisbon and Porto to Paris-Charles de Gaulle.

With this agreement, Air France and Sata Azores Airlines are offering, on a code-share basis, over 70 weekly flights to the Azores from Lisbon and Porto and more than 60 weekly frequencies between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Lisbon and Porto.

Eligible Air France customers have access to the Sata Azores Airlines lounges in Lisbon, Porto and the Azores islands, in addition to “Fast Track” access at Lisbon and Porto airports, allowing them to pass security checkpoints quickly and easily and bypass long wait lines.

Azores Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

Azores Airlines takes delivery of its first Airbus A321LR

Azores Airlines, the Azores archipelago-based carrier, has taken delivery of its first of three Airbus A321LRs to be leased from Air Lease Corporation, becoming the latest operator of the long-range single-aisle aircraft.

Powered by CFM International’s LEAP-1A engines, the Azores Airlines’ A321LR comprises 190 seats in a two-class configuration (16 Business class seats and 174 seats in Economy) offering premium wide-body comfort in a single-aisle aircraft cabin and with single-aisle operating costs. With this new A321LR, the Portuguese operator will continue its strategy of growth and network expansion to European destinations as well as transatlantic routes between the Azores and North America.

The A321LR is a long-range (LR) version of the best-selling A320neo Family and provides airlines with the flexibility to fly long-range operations of up to 4,000 nm (7,400 km) and to tap into new long-haul markets, which were not previously accessible with single-aisle aircraft.

The A321LR will join the Azores Airlines’ Airbus fleet of five single-aisle aircraft comprising three A320ceo and two A321neo jetliners in service since last year. This new member of the fleet will provide Azores Airlines with more operational flexibility while leveraging on aircraft commonality.

Photo: Airbus.

Azores Airlines to retire the last Airbus A310

Type Retired: October 15, 2018 (flight S4 124 Ponta Delgada - Lisbon with CS-TGV)

Azores Airlines tomorrow (October 15) will operate the last Airbus A310 revenue flight with CS-TGV.

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The airline made this short announcement on social media:

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On October 15, the last aircraft of Azores Airlines’ A310 fleet makes its last flight.

It is a 19-year cycle, almost two decades to transport thousands of passengers to the most diverse destinations.

Thank you to all who caressed this distinguished fleet!

Note: The Airbus A310 fleet did not receive the name and livery change to Azores Airlines due to the pending retirement of the last A310.

Video:

Top Copyright Photo (all others by the airline): SATA Internacional Airbus A310-304 CS-TGV (msn 651) YYZ (TMK Photography). Image: 900159.

SATA Internacional Airbus A310-325 CS-TKN (msn 624) AMS (Ton Jochems). Image: 913257.

Above Copyright Photo: SATA Internacional Airbus A310-325 CS-TKN (msn 624) AMS (Ton Jochems). Image: 913257.

SATA aircraft slide show:

Bottom Copyright Photo: SATA Internacional Airbus A310-304 CS-TGV (msn 651) YYZ (TMK Photography). Image: 904604.

Airline Color Scheme - Introduced 1998

Azores Airlines to resume seasonal service to Providence

Azores' first Airbus A321neo, in a special "Breathe" livery

Azores Airlines on June 8, 2018 will resume weekly summer seasonal service from Ponta Delgado to Providence, RI.

The route will be operated with Airbus A321 aircraft.

Copyright Photo: Azores Airlines Airbus A321-253N WL CS-TSF (msn 7972) (Breathe) LIS (Ton Jochems). Image: 940745.

Azores Airlines aircraft slide show:

ALC delivers the first Airbus A321neo to Azores Airlines

 

Azores' first Airbus A321neo, in a special "Breathe" livery

Air Lease Corporation (ALC) on December 14, 2017 announced that Azores Airlines-SATA International (Portugal) received its first new Airbus A321neo aircraft.  This aircraft is the first of six CFM Leap 1A engine-powered A321neos to be delivered to Azores Airlines from ALC’s order book with Airbus.  The next five A321neos will deliver between now and early 2021.

The pictured Airbus A321-253N D-AVYI became CS-TSF (msn 7972) on the handover. The airliner is painted in a special “Breathe” livery.

The airline, fully owned by SATA (Sociedade Açoreana de Transportes Aéreos) becomes the first Portuguese operator to receive a member of the A320neo Family.  By way of an extensive transatlantic network, these aircraft will connect Portugal and Azores to cities in the United States and Canada, in addition to major Western European cities.

The six new ALC A321neo aircraft will progressively replace Azores’ aging Airbus A310s on routes from Azores to the USA and Canada as well as on the airline’s high frequency network to Portugal and Western Europe.

Photo: Azores Airlines Airbus A321-253N WL CS-TSF (msn 7972) (Breathe) LIS (Ton Jochems). Image: 940745.

Azores Airlines to expand trans-Atlantic operations with new Airbus A321s

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Azores Airlines, which is fully owned by Sociedade Açoreana de Transportes Aéreos (SATA), is modernizing its short-haul and trans-Atlantic fleet with the Airbus A321neo and by 2019 with the longer range A321LR. The decision follows a growth strategy to expand into new trans-Atlantic routes.

Azores Airlines (SATA) has been an Airbus customer since 1999 operating seven A310, A320 and A330 Airbus aircrafts across Europe, Canada and North America.

According to Airbus, The A321LR, the latest member of the market leading A320neo Family, will be able to fly longer routes of up to 4,000 nm. The A321LR will provide additional flexibility as it will have the longest range of any single aisle airliner, making it ideally suited to transatlantic routes and enable airlines to tap into new long haul markets which were not previously accessible with current single aisle aircraft. First deliveries will start in 2019.

Image: Airbus.

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