Thursday 18 June 2009


When we told people back in Edinburgh that we were moving to the Azores, the almost universal reaction was "the whats?". Once we'd explained that the Azores were nowhere near the Falkland Islands or Brazil and were much further north and west than Madeira or the Canaries, the most frequently asked question was "How do you get there?"

I think they imagined us hanging around the docks of Lisbon looking for the captain of a rusty tramp steamer down on his luck who could be bribed with strong liquor into dropping us in an open boat a few miles off the coast of the Azores at dead of night while his craft went about its nefarious ways.

Well I'm afraid the answer to how you get to the Azores is a bit more prosaic: you go on an Airbus - just the same as Majorca, Tenerife, Madeira et al.

In fairness, if you ask most Brits about getting to an island, they will think about going to the Isle of Wight or the Isle of Man or the Hebrides etc. and will think of going on a car ferry. But there is no car ferry from mainland Portugal to the Azores - at around 48+ hours sail, it's too long for a ferry.

So you come on an aeroplane. There are two airlines - the Portuguese national airline, TAP Portugal and the Azorean airline, SATA.

Between them, they maintain several flights a day from Lisbon to the three biggest islands in the Azores - Sao Miguel, Terceira and Faial (2 hour flight). In summer, SATA fly once a week from Sao Miguel to major European capitals such as London (Gatwick), Paris and Amsterdam (3.5-4 hours). Importantly, in view of the emigre connection, SATA also flies from Sao Miguel directly to North America - Boston, Toronto, Montreal and Oakland (California). Only a few flights a week and I can't remember now if these are summer only.

So, if you're coming to Flores, what do you do once you've disembarked from your Airbus at one of the bigger islands? You get on a smaller aeroplane operated by SATA Air Açores. In winter, there is one flight a day except Sunday. These are mostly to Sao Miguel via Faial (50 mins each leg) but there are also some flights to Terceira (1 hour). In summer, the frequency increases to include Sundays and, on some days, there are as many as three flights a day. Below is a picture of the aeroplane that comes out to Flores:-

And as I can already hear the yawns of boredom, I'll tell you about the ships that come out to Flores in another posting.


Kathie said...

SATA's English language flight info online is at

Re North American flights:
SATA offers year-round nonstop flights on Tuesdays and Fridays between Boston, Massachusetts, and Ponta Delgada, São Miguel (red-eye to Azores; late evening return), plus additional flights on other days of the week at holidays and during the summer. SATA's Oakland, California - Lajes, Terceira, flights are once a week in summer only, on Tuesdays (technical stop midway in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, with no deplaning allowed).

Re Canada:
Toronto, Ontario, flights are year-round; don't know re Montréal, Québec.

Anonymous said...

Azores Express, a U.S.-based tour operator and member of the SATA Group, offers direct flights on wide body A310 aircraft to São Miguel, the main island in the Azores archipelago, with daily connections to Flores. Connecting flights from São Miguel are also offered to Lisbon and the island of Madeira. Azores Express has connected New England with the Azores and mainland Portugal for more than 20 years. The carrier is part of the SATA Group, which connects the Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal, with the world.

For more information and reservations, contact Azores Express at 800-762-9995, For more information about the Azores Islands visit Portugal's official tourist board site at and

Kathie said...

In summer SATA also has nonstop flights between Boston, Massachusetts, and Lajes, Terceira. I know this because I've taken it home TWICE, including a connection from my visit to Flores -- how could I have forgotten?!?

Also worth noting, SATA feeds passengers actual dinners and provides movies, even in coach! One no longer gets those amenities on US airlines any more.