By Bulent Imat
Azores Airlines Resumes Non-Stop Flights to Boston, Toronto, Frankfurt
Azores Airlines resumed non-stop international operations with flights to Frankfurt, Germany; Boston and Toronto. Boston and Toronto are focus destinations of the airline as a large number of Azorean emigrants reside in these cities.
The airline is also slated to reinstate its air service to Amílcar Cabral International Airport in Cape Verde in August with two flights weekly. The Azorean airline company had to suspend its flight operations on March 22 with the advent of novel coronavirus pandemic.
The airline is planning to operate five flights per week to Boston in July and October, increasing to seven in August and September. There will be five flights per week to Toronto and two flights per week to Frankfurt.
In June, Azores Airlines resumed its flight operations to the Portuguese mainland, which were also suspended due to the pandemic-related flight restrictions. SATA Air Azores, the parent company of Azores Airlines, has also resumed its flights connecting the islands of the Azores. As of July, SATA Air Azores is operating inter-island flights, with 61 weekly connections.
“Although still limited, it represents and demonstrates the significant investment by SATA Group, which has sought to cooperate actively so that the economic and tourist activity of the Archipelago can gradually revive. The effort made in restarting the operations represents the commitment and the mission that SATA Group assumes in promoting mobility between the islands of the archipelago and between these and the outside, ” said the airline group in a prepared statement.
A Positive Look from SATA
Approximately a month after the resumption of its operation, SATA Group carriers has touted a very positive view of its operation in the transport of both passengers and cargo.
In June, the average passenger occupancy rate of the carriers was around 40% on all routes operated, which represents a notable uptick considering the three-month period when the flight operations were suspended due to the respiratory disease pandemic. The Azorean airline group sees this percentage as an encouraging figure.
“Airlines and passengers show more confidence in flying again and learn to move in the new normality,” said the company.
Despite the gradual resumption of operations, the occupancy rate remains, as expected, below the occupancy that is usually recorded at this time of the year. The company forecasts that the occupancy rate will be at around 33% from July 15 to the end of August, meaning an approximately 50% drop compared with the same period last year. The airline group expects that a number of passengers will wait until they gain confidence by receiving testimonies from other passengers that their flights are going well.
SATA said that a series of specific adjustments will be made in this period in order to seek a better balance between supply and demand for better resource management.
The company previously announced that it had applied for state aid of 163 million euros ($184 million) to meet liquidity needs until the end of the current year of 2020.
The airline group said that the measures implemented by SATA Group to overcome the impacts of the pandemic were insufficient to address the cash needs facing the group, requiring public intervention by the country’s government.
“Meanwhile, given the difficult financial situation in which the business group finds itself — strongly aggravated by the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic — and in order to allow it to become operational, public support measures are needed in the immediate term, in line with the majority of airlines in Europe”, continued the group in its statement
Azores Airlines, a subsidiary of SATA Group, is a Portuguese airline based in the autonomous archipelago of the Azores. While SATA Air Azores operate inter-island flights, Azores Airlines connects the archipelago with mainland Portugal, Europe and North America.
Located in the Atlantic Ocean between Europe and North America, the Azores are very popular among travelers.