SATA Air Açores
|Founded||August 21, 1941|
|Commenced operations||June 15, 1947|
|Operating bases||João Paulo II Airport|
|Frequent-flyer program||SATA Imagine|
|Company slogan||The Atlantic and You|
|Parent company||Grupo SATA|
|Headquarters||Ponta Delgada, São Miguel|
|Key people||António Gomes de Menezes (Chairman)|
SATA Air Açores is an airline based in São Sebastião, Ponta Delgada in the Azores, Portugal. It operates scheduled passenger, cargo and mail services around the Azores. It provides its own maintenance and handling services and manages four regional airports. Its main base is at João Paulo II Airport, Ponta Delgada. It also maintains a subsidiary for mid- and long-haul flights, Azores Airlines, the former SATA International.
On August 21, 1941, a group of investors that included Augusto Rebelo Arruda, José Bensaúde, Augusto d'Athayde, Corte Real Soares de Albergaria, Albano de Freitas da Silva and the company Bensaúde & Co. Lda. (through its managing director António de Medeiros e Almeida) established Sociedade Açoreana de Estudos Aéreos Lda. (English: Azorean Aviation Studies Company, Ltd.) to look into the feasibility of developing an inter-island airline that would link the Azorean archipelago and continental Portugal, and to obtain the governmental concession to do so. Augusto Rebelo Arruda eventually transferred his shares to Bensaúde & Co. Lda. on September 15, 1947, although the first Sociedade Açoreana de Transportes Aéreos (English: Azorean Air Transport Company) flight occurred from Santa Maria Airport in June, 1947. Captain Marciano Veiga piloted the first flight at the controls of a twin-engine Beechcraft (named Açor) with seven passengers.
The Portuguese government granted temporary concession to the airline, which operated mail, cargo and air passenger services between São Miguel (Santana Field, until 1969), Terceira (at Achada, Lajes) and Santa Maria airports. By May 23, 1948 the airline had received two de Havilland DH.104 Dove aircraft to supplement its operations. On August 5, 1948, one of these Beechcraft failed to take to the air and crashes on take-off: all the passengers and crew were killed, prompting the suspension of flight operations. Two new DH.104 Doves would be delivered on May 23, 1949, with the capacity for nine passengers, and a Douglas DC-3 Dakota (CS-TAD) with capacity for 26 passengers would enter into by July 1, 1964.
In 1969, Nordela Airport (which would eventually be rechristened João Paulo II International) in Ponta Delgada (Relva) was inaugurated to civil traffic and would become the SATA base of operations. By 1971, TAP Air Portugal would begin Lisbon-Ponta Delgada service, and the airport in Horta, Faial would be inaugurated on August 24, 1971. The airline would eventually replace its aging fleet with Hawker Siddeley HS 748 turboprops (1972) with a larger capacity and range, that would fly between the newer airports constructed in all nine islands of the archipelago (between 1981 and 1983). In 1976, the Portuguese Air Force offered two Douglas DC-6 airplanes with a continental range. They were to be used effectively during a TAP strike that allowed SATA to extend their services to Lisbon. By April 14, 1977 it would have transported 1 million passengers throughout the regional market.
It was originally formed as a private company (50% interest held by Bensaúde & Co.Lda.), but on 17 October 1980 it was reborn as a state-owned enterprise (SOE) operated by the Regional Government and TAP Air Portugal. It became a signatory of the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) charters in 1980 when it became a SOE, which it remains as of March 2014. The name of the airline changed in 1980 to SATA Air Açores.
Between 1989 and 1990, the inter-island HS 748 aircraft were gradually replaced by BAe ATP, after the first aircraft (named Santa Maria) entered service in 1989. Eventually other planes would be added, reflecting the regional politics, each aircraft would be named after an island (Flores, in 1990, and Graciosa, in 1991), including a small Dornier 228-212 that was added to link the small island of Corvo, which substituted a CASA C-212 Aviocar Series 100 operated by the Portuguese Air Force. A revitalization program was initiated in the late part of the 2000s to rationalize and upgrade existing aircraft, resulting in a competition between ATR and Bombardier to supply the necessary equipment that met the needs of the archipelago. The decision to purchase Bombardier NextGen aircraft was not without controversy. The latest phase of its fleet renovation, which complies with a 15-20 year plan, began in July 2009, with the entry into service of two Bombardier Q200. It was followed up with a ceremony in Toronto, Ontario, on 25 January 2010, when the first next-generation Bombardier Q400, registration CS-TRD, was unveiled. The first of a series (four in all) began arriving at the end of January 2010; the second, registration CS-TRE, was received on 11 February, and the remaining planes arrived in March (registered CS-TRF and CS-TRG). The Q400 aircraft were projected for the short distance, high density markets with the archipelago and Macaronesian destinations. Its two PW150A engines, allows the planes to cruise at 667 km/hour, while transporting 80 passengers comfortably for distances up 2500 km, markedly within the limits of the archipelago. Further, as António Gomes de Menezes (President) affirmed, the operating range of the airline allowed SATA Air Açores to expand their services in the archipelagos of the Azores, Madeira and the Canaries with the new aircraft.
SATA introduced a new logo with the new fleet revitalization; referred to as Blue Island Açor, it was inaugurated with the appearance of the first Bombardier aircraft, the Q200. Base on a year-long effort, and over 100 drafts, the re-imagined modern Açor brand was designed by Ivity-Corp. It is basically a geometric composite of nine-shapes, representing the nine islands of the archipelago, joined to form the ubiquitous Açor identified in legend. When exploded, each shape can be placed alone in geographical context to form a modernist map of the Azores.
The SATA Air Açores fleet consists of the following (as of August 2016):
|Bombardier Dash 8-Q200||2||37||Ex-Horizon Air|
|Bombardier Dash 8-Q400||4||80|
Incidents and Accidents
- On 11 December 1999, SATA Air Açores Flight 530M crashed on the island of São Jorge in the Azores. The British Aerospace ATP, en route from Ponte Delgada Airport to Horta Airport, was on descent in heavy rain and turbulence. The combination of the weather conditions, the pilots not using the onboard weather radar, imprecise navigation, and the plane not keeping above the minimum safe altitude, the plane crashed into the north face of Pico da Esperança. All 35 people on board were killed.
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- AviationNews.EU, 2010
- Lusa/AOonline, 10 June 2008
- Lusa, 31 March 2008
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- Azorean Spirit, May–July 2009, p.47
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- "Aviação: SATA quer ligar Açores, Madeira e Canárias com nova frota" [SATA Wants to Link Azores, Madeira and Canaries with New Fleet] (in Portuguese). Lusa/Expresso. 31 March 2008. Retrieved 28 July 2010.
- "Compra de novos aviões da SATA foi golpe contra os Açores" [Purchase of SATA's Aircraft SATA was a Coup d'etat Against the Azores] (in Portuguese). Lusa/AOnline. 10 June 2008. Retrieved 28 July 2010.
- van Leeuwen, Marcel (26 January 2010). "First Bombardier Q400 NextGen Airliner Headed to SATA Air Açores of the Azores, Portugal". AviationNews.EU. Retrieved 28 July 2010.
- SATA, ed. (20 May 2009). "Azorean Spirit: SATA Magazine" (32). Ponta Delgada, Azores: SATA Air Azores: 46–49.
- "ASN Aircraft accident British Aerospace ATP CS-TGM Sao Jorge Island, Acores". Retrieved 27 October 2012.
Media related to SATA Air Açores at Wikimedia Commons