Azores Airlines to Open Porto Base to Cross the Pond

Azores Airlines has announced plans to open a new base in Porto to launch new direct flights to North America next year.



August 15, 2023

DALLAS — Azores Airlines (S4), the local Portuguese carrier serving flights to the Azores Archipelago, has announced plans to open a new base in Porto to launch new direct flights to North America next year.

The airline expects to increase its presence at Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO) by 36%, placing itself as the 4th largest operator there. At the moment of writing, the three transatlantic destinations S4 is looking to launch are New York (JFK), Toronto (YYZ), and Boston (BOS), with six weekly flights starting June 2024.

With this bet, S4 aims to consolidate the direct air operation between the city of Porto and the Azores archipelago and boost the offer in Porto and in North America, a market to which it has been flying for more than two decades and now claims to be a comfortable alternative for those looking to travel between the two continents.

Azores will increase flights to the archipelago to 42 weekly connections with Terceira (TER) and Sao Miguel (PDL) islands to support its North American operations.

The S4 operational strategy relies on the technological advances in range brought by the Airbus A321neo family. Photo: Adrian Nowakowski/Airways

Would You Fly Long-Haul on an A321?

For many decades, transatlantic travel has always been associated with boarding a widebody jet, usually fitting between 250 and 400 passengers and with a spacious cabin. However, as ETOPS was adopted by the industry and smaller aircraft were built with increased range, the tradition of flying large aircraft is slowly coming to an end.

With the introduction of the Airbus A321neo series, and thanks to the very good strategic position of the Azores archipelago, the carrier of the SATA Group has taken advantage and launched alternative services to traditional transatlantic travel with a short stop in Lajes or Ponta Delgada.

The S4 Airbus A321LR is configured in a 3-3 layout, fitting 174 passengers in Economy Class and 16 passengers in Business Class. With flights to Toronto from Porto taking over 7 hours in flight time, many members of the airline community criticize this system by considering the A321 cabin too tight for a transatlantic flight.

The truth is that, with smaller airplanes with longer ranges, new cost-efficient routes between smaller airports are now economically possible. According to Airbus, the A320neo’s long-range variant provides extended range, "capable of flying routes of up to 4,000 nm with 206 passengers by utilising extra fuel in three Additional Centre Tanks (ACTs)."

Other carriers using the Airbus A321LR on transatlantic routes are Air Transat (TS), Scandinavian Airlines (SK), TAP Air Portugal (TP), and more recently, JetBlue (B6).

What is your opinion about transatlantic travel on narrow-body aircraft? Do you consider this method of transportation promising for the industry? Don't hesitate to leave your comments on our social media platforms.

Featured image: Azores Airlines