PONTA DELGADA — Azores Airlines made some waves today from its base in Ponta Delgada. On Tuesday, September 20, the Portuguese carrier committed to lease six new Airbus A321neo, including four A321LRs from Air Lease Corporation.
SATA Group hosted a press conference at 10:30 am local time, for which Airways was in attendance. The announcement comes after the carrier’s decision to follow a growth strategy, intended to expand into new transatlantic markets, while replacing its aging Airbus A310-300 fleet, nearing 25 years of service.
“Our mission is to bring the Azores to the world and the world to the Azores, and we are happy to be investing in the Airbus A321neo aircraft to continue achieving this,” says Paulo Menezes, CEO of SATA Group. “We have a vision of being ever stronger and more competitive in a demanding global world and also of being able to build an airline of excellence that can make its mark in the world of international commercial aviation and gradually and consistently conquer market share and visibility for the brand.”
The carrier said the new aircraft will be capable of operating any route, tested under the most rigorous conditions, currently in the airline’s network. It will also open up new long-haul possibilities for Azores Airlines. Once the company takes delivery of the new aircraft, it will have the flexibility to use either its A330-200 or its A321LRs, which have a range of up to 4,000 nm, on other transatlantic routes at its discretion. According to Airbus, the A321LR has the longest range than any other narrow-body airliner.
The new aircraft will enable the carrier to tap into new long-haul markets previously out of reach. It is thought that Azores Airlines may eventually expand into Brazil, which would connect Azores with the country’s large Portuguese expat community.
Azores Airlines is a subsidiary of SATA International, operating the company’s long-haul routes among other services, and boasts an all-Airbus fleet, with three Airbus A310s, three A320s and one A330-200, serving scheduled flights to the Madeira Islands, mainland Portugal and other destinations in Europe and North America, as well as charter flights.
“The new ALC A321neo aircraft will replace Azores Airlines’ A310 fleet and add additional frequencies and schedules to the airline’s network on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and the Azores,” Steven F. Udvar-Házy, executive chairman of Air Lease said in a statement.
Airbus representatives were also on hand at the press conference, with some noise to make of their own. The airframer announced that its A320neo family, previously known as the “new engine option,” will now be known as the “new environment option,” touting the aircraft’s green footprint.
It’s a big day in the growth vision of Azores Airlines and for the people of Portugal. We should stay tuned to see which destinations the airline may add to its network next.