TERCEIRA, THE AZORES — SATA Azores Airlines’ new flights to the Azores from Montreal’s Trudeau airport are taking off in a big way.
Travelweek Group’s news source for the French-speaking travel trade, Profession Voyages, experienced the carrier’s inflight service as part of a trip to the Azores earlier this summer. “A European destination far from mass tourism that will delight lovers of the outdoors and authenticity. A guaranteed favourite within five hours of flight!” says Profession Voyages’ GM, Gwendoline Duval.
Duval’s feedback and insights appeared recently on ProfessionVoyages.com.
Duval says the airline, founded in the Azores in 1941 and with almost 75 years of flight and 80 years of history, has at its heart the depth of the Azorean soul. The airline is committed to overcoming the isolation of the archipelago in particular by connecting it with Canada.
The inaugural June 15, 2022 flight, announced earlier this year, was an event awaited by the whole island for a long time, says Duval. And so far so good for ticket sales; the route is “performing well for the moment” according to the airline.
Even better, the company wants to work closely with travel agencies in Canada. “One of our main goals is to equip agents with the tools to confidently sell SATA Azores Airlines and the destinations it serves,” says the carrier. “Agents can learn more by participating in SATA’s Agent Specialist program, with learning modules about the airline and different destinations.” The website is SATASpecialist.com. An earlier draw offered a chance to win a ticket to the Azores and other prizes.
ALREADY A COMMITMENT FOR 2023
SATA Azores Airlines’ seasonal weekly flight leaves YUL every Wednesday at 11:10 a.m. through Sept. 14. From Toronto, in summer, flights take place on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday to Ponta Delgada, and Tuesday and Sunday to Terceira. In winter, it will offer four weekly flights to Ponta Delgada (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday) and a flight to Terceira on Tuesday.
The worry with seasonal flights is that they only last for one season, but word is that the airline has already committed to returning to a second season of operation next year, from mid-June through Sept. 28, 2023.
Supported by a community of more than 50,000 Azoreans in Montreal, the airline and the destination of Terceira believe in the friendship that can be created between the two nations and thus offer a sustainable air connection that will return year after year, says Duval.
The company believes in the potential on the Canadian market and there will be more flights next year. “There are many Azoreans in Canada who return home to visit relatives, and the Azores also represent an attractive destination for Canadians looking for a sustainable destination with breathtaking landscapes and many activities. outdoor activities such as hiking, golf, diving, whale watching, surfing, thermal pools, but also gastronomy and culture,” explains SATA.
“We plan to operate one flight per week from YUL to TER and PDL next summer, and depending on the availability and demand of slots, to increase the frequency in the coming years.”
Rui Serpa, owner of Quebec’s Voyages Services Plus, says he’s very confident for next season. “I have already reserved my blocks of seats,” he tells PV, adding that he already has plans to market the destination more next summer. And Serpa wants other travel agencies to know that they can work in collaboration with him and thus benefit from negotiated rates for their clients.
Launching direct service in the current context to a destination unknown to many Canadians can be a challenge, but it’s important to note this isn’t SATA Azores Airlines’ first attempt, says Duval. In 2008 the airline launched service from Montreal to San Miguel (Ponte Delgada), the most touristic island of the archipelago.
This time, the company is returning to YUL by offering a flight to Terceira, strategically well-located to radiate throughout the archipelago. Plus, Serpa at Voyages Services Plus was ready to commit to a block of seats, which helped get the new service off the ground.
For travellers further afield, connections are available from across Canada through codeshare agreements with WestJet and Porter Airlines.
In addition, the company offers an excellent stopover program to facilitate multi-destination travel. This program allows travellers to visit the Azores in both directions for a maximum of seven days at no additional cost.
SATA’S ONBOARD EXPERIENCE
SATA Azores Airlines’ flights from YUL are serviced by A321-253neo LR or A321neo aircraft, with economy class and business class. COVID-19 measures are still in place and wearing a mask is compulsory on board.
Business class may strike some Canadian passengers as more like premium class, but the service is top-notch. Says Duval: “We particularly liked the kindness of the cabin crew, which represents the warm welcome you will experience when you arrive in Terceira. Flying onboard an airline that transports us as soon as the plane enters the world of the destination is always a big plus to start your vacation.”
Legroom and seating were up to standard. While most transatlantic airlines offer paid checked baggage, with SATA Azores Airlines the first bag of 23 kg is free for all fares, as well as sports equipment of up to 15 kg. The route is only five hours from YUL, and daytime flights reduce the effect of jet lag. Regarding in-flight entertainment, whether in business or economy class, passengers will need to use their own device (mobile, tablet or laptop).
For more details see azoresairlines.pt.