Azores Airlines’ Fascinating Bermuda Route

Filed Under: Other Airlines

This coming summer Azores Airlines is launching service between two of the most remote airport pairs out there…

Azores Airlines’ Ponta Delgada to Bermuda flight

Azores Airlines will start flying to Bermuda as of the summer of 2021, and tickets are now on sale. Between June 6 and September 19, Azores Airlines will fly once weekly between Ponta Delgada and Bermuda. The flight will operate on Sundays with the following schedule:

S4227 Ponta Delgada to Bermuda departing 8:15AM arriving 10:25AM
S4228 Bermuda to Ponta Delgada departing 11:40AM arriving 7:25PM

The 2,224 mile flight is blocked at 5hr10min westbound and 4hr45min eastbound.

Azores Airlines will use an Airbus A321neo for the route. The airline has a fleet of six A320-family aircraft, and the A321neo that will be used for this route will feature 186 seats, including 16 business class seats and 160 economy class seats.

Why the Azores to Bermuda route is so cool

To be clear, I don’t have a need to fly between Bermuda and the Azores, or anything, so that’s not why I’m writing about this route. Rather I’m writing about this route because, well, take a look at this on a map and tell me it’s not cool?!

Bermuda is about 700 miles from the US mainland, while Ponta Delgada is about 900 miles from the European mainland. While I’m not sure this flight qualifies as being transatlantic, it’s still so darn cool to see on a map.

Interestingly even though this is a flight between two islands in the middle of the ocean, it’s not much shorter than Azores Airlines’ Ponta Delgada to Boston flight, which is only about 170 miles further (see my review of this route here, though it was pack when the airline flew A310s).

Azores Airlines’ A310 business class

A couple of years back there was talk of Icelandair buying a stake in Azores Airlines. As an avgeek the prospect of a flight between the Azores and Iceland made me pretty excited, but this route will do. šŸ˜‰

What is the target market for this route?

I’m opening this up to you guys, because I’m not actually sure. We’re talking about a once weekly flight here for a few months, so clearly this isn’t a business route (I’m not sure any of Azores Airlines’ routes are really “business” routes).

So what’s the motivation for this route, given Azores Airlines’ relatively small route network? I can come up with two explanations:

  • I believe somewhere around 10% of the population of Bermuda has Portuguese ancestry, but Bermuda only has ~64K residents, so that doesn’t exactly seem like a compelling reason to launch a route
  • Maybe this is largely targeted at European tourists from all over (including Portugal), since the only other direct link from Europe to Bermuda is on British Airways; however, the flights really aren’t timed well for same-day connections

If anyone has any insights, I’d love to hear them! I sure did enjoy my time in the Azores a few years back, and would highly recommend a visit when the time is right.

Bottom line

Azores Airlines will launch once weekly flights between Ponta Delgada and Bermuda in the summer of 2021. Azores Airlines has a very limited route network, so this is an interesting add.

As an avgeek I just love how this route looks on a map, as it connects two remote islands in the Atlantic Ocean.

Anyone else find this Azores Airlines route as cool as I do?

(Tip of the hat to Rob)

  1. If it ever inaugurates, it will be super short lived. There virtually is not marketed for this point to point nonsense.

  2. The Azores and Bermuda has a mutual agreement that young people can do seasonal work on either archipelago. I have worked as a tour leader on the Azores several times. And many of my young work colleges on the Azores work in the cruise industry in Bermuda part of the year. So there will be a market for transporting these people.

  3. VFR is an airline term for Visiting Friends and Relatives….. a route with limited or zero business or leisure (vacation) demand.

  4. There’s a small Azorean Portuguese population in Bermuda–much like there are in Providence and Boston. Much ado about whaling in the heyday. I’ve actually flown PDL-VXE last year and it was super full. More flights from the Azores to Cabo Verde than to more nearby the Canaries. Seems common language and culture override proximity.

  5. I agree that’s a very exciting route and I would love to fly that

    having visited the Azores, it looks like a very intriguing way to move across the Atlantic

  6. @ Ben;
    “the A321neo that will be used for this route will feature 186 seats, including 16 business class seats and 160 economy class seats.”A typo?
    I believ Icelandair instead buyed a stake in Cabo Verde Airlines because they don’t have own planes to fly i.e. to LIS and I believe they were banned in the EU too.

    @ Tom; “There is a huge expat / worker population in BDA from the Azores” I don’t know your perception of “huge” but with 64K habitants in BDA I don’t think there really is big business for this Route, even with one flight per week.

  7. VFR – visiting friends and relatives IS a common term in the commercial aviation/tourism industry but VFR – visual flight rules is also an aviation term so I guess the criticism is only fair.

  8. I wouldn’t describe the Portuguese population in Bermuda as huge. There are people who wish to visit their families in the Azores and others may want to go as well. It is probably 5% of the population of Bermuda, about 3.000 I think. There is no cruise ship industry in Bermuda so not sure what that other response was about.

  9. Another comment on VFR, I don’t inhabit the specialist aviation world (and to the extent I ever did it was military not civil) but I had picked up on the term over the last year. Fairly sure it was here, so it is part of what this audience would use (or at least be familiar with). The other place I have come across it was in main-stream media discussion of when flights will resume. The usual context for that was to differentiate VFR flight demand from tourist demand. (More often than not the term was used there in full, not the TLA.)

    *Three letter acronym.

  10. That flight operated as a charter at a couple of times in the past. Maybe they see a chance to make it work as a scheduled flight. As a portuguese, I can’t think of any other possible reason other than connecting Azores to the Azorean community in Bermuda. The flight will not make money for sure but none of the Azores Airlines flights make money anyway, so it will be business as usual.

  11. Perhaps a mix of local traffic between PDA and BDA, plus LIS-PDA-BDA connecting traffic. (Reasonable assumption that the aircraft will come over from LIS to PDA and continue to BDA). Back in my TWA years we picked up an odd assortment of connecting passengers at BOS for the BOS to Santa Maria leg. Might still be enough of a market to make some connecting revenue. Keep us posted!

  12. I’m a Bermudian, so perhaps my perspective is different from that of other commenters. I have to disagree that this route is bound to fail.

    Bermuda has had strong connections with the Azores, in particular with SĆ£o Miguel, since the mid to late 1800’s. Laborers were in short supply in Bermuda and it was an attractive proposition for young men from the Azores to go there to work, often without their families, and be able to send a good amount back home. Over time some were assimilated into the local population, but many remained on work contracts and eventually returned home to the Azores.

    As has been said in other comments, the Portuguese in Bermuda number about 9,000. Many still make trips back to the Azores at least every other year. Annual seat capacity each way, assuming a 12 week season for the flight, will be 2,232. So, if only 1/4 of the 9,000 make the trek every year, the flights will run near full throughout.

    In addition, the Azores are well known and of interest to a good number of other Bermudians, who are pretty affluent and have voracious appetites for travel.

    Of course, travel initiating in the Azores by relatives of Portuguese Bermudians visiting Bermuda would also take up some capacity.

    From my point of view, this route should be successful given the alternatives that were available in the past. To get from one end to the other right now, you have to go through Boston or Toronto and it is pretty expensive.

    My two cents on the subject.

  13. Itā€™s definitely a transatlantic route, as it a) crosses the Atlantic and b) the two airports are on different continents.

    I have never visited either, but this opens up the possibility to visit both the Azores and Bermuda without the hassle of going via the US or changing airports in London.

  14. Apart from visiting friends and relatives, I can only think about the fishing industry. Perhaps it’s a reaction to flight ban between the the US and the EU. In previous years, the airline hat a lot of flights to BOS and JFK, perhaps a few of the passengers connecting to BDA. Now that EU citizens (except double citizens) are banned from flying to the US, they might be offering a direct option. So I guess the route will be short lived, because it will go away when the US/EU reopen.

  15. As another Bermudian, I second Anthony’s comment that the market for this flight will not just be residents of Portuguese descent. Bermudians of all backgrounds tend to be well traveled and potentially interested in traveling to the Azores. My mother participated in a sold out charter trip from Bermuda to the Azores a few years ago, where the majority of participants were not of Portuguese heritage. I am already considering this flight for my first major vacation post-pandemic and I’m sure that I’m not the only Bermudian considering it.

  16. Thx for sharing, this is the perfect addition to the other unique TATL next summer, the ASL flight…

    So, what about a roundtrip YYZ-YHZ-FSP-CDG-PDL-BDA-YYZ?

  17. @Anthony Smith

    Absolutely correct. This flight has ran three charters, one over the summer and two just before Christmas. Every flight has been fully booked with passengers carrying multiple pieces of checked luggage. This flight will make a decent chunk of change for the airline in bag fees alone let alone the fact itā€™ll be fully booked or near to fully booked every week.

    The Portuguese community and descendants of especially Azoreans; myself being one, is quite substantial in Bermuda. Many fly back and fourth a couple times a year already, Iā€™m sure a direct flight would entice more to do so to visit family and friends and interest more residents to visit the Azores.

    There certainly is a market and enough demand for a weekly direct flight with the 321 being the perfect fit for the route. I would love to see a twice weekly flight on this route though I doubt thereā€™s be enough demand for that.

  18. On a larger picture, Azores Airlines will open two new European Routes:
    London STN 3x week
    Paris CDG 3 x week
    On top of the existing
    Frankfurt 2 x week

    Unfortunately none of these connections will be available on the same day – either ways. Which forces a stop-over – something the regional government of the Azores wants to push for anyway. I wish they would make this route connecting at least in one of the directions to give it a real chance for success. Personally I like the way it cuts traveling and makes that particular connecting point so logical.

    I find the route super odd and to my best knowledge the emigration flows where always towards Boston/Providence/Oakland/Toronto/Montreal – never heard of any Bermuda Azorean community, at least not one that would justify this route.

  19. Well there have been numerous charters over the years from the Azorean population here and I am sure others would like to go. I would but only if I have been vaccinated

  20. To me this is progress , as stated in a previous comment by Henry Young , many southern countries cannot stop /connect/ lay over or otherwise in the United States . It opens a door so badly needed . A man married a woman from Columbia ; to get to Bermuda they had to fly to the UK and then on to Bermuda . The same can be said for the Caribbean to the extent i am not sure . Still the point is an increase in those passing through to Europe would now be made possible . I LOVE THE IDEA!!!

  21. the $577.45 per person that must be one way, I cant see that being round trip. trust me if it round trip my family will go in the summer.

  22. Great post! Is the flight still available though from Azeros airlineā€™s website? I tried to reproduce the quote above but cannot locate the flight.

  23. I have to say I must have missed something ,didn’t see anything regarding price though I did consider the price would probably be in the neighborhood of $600 /$700 round trip depending on time bought ie: the earlier the better the price. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves it is to begin with a charter so seats would be pressed and cheaper. I posted in my last post that it would be good for South America countries and didn’t consider our friend ,Stranded Ausie wow that would simplify getting a great deal why you could bypass the UK entirely. At the end of the day I really believe this would be good for Bermuda and all concerned. Also while I don’t believe the airline has set a price I do feel it will be more reasonable than connecting in NY or Boston in th long run.

  24. well on the top of this page the iterenary on there with date and time and the price of 577.45 but it does not say if it a round trip.

  25. Apologies Antonio I did miss that very tiny writing and that it was an Itinerary. You arequite right and well that apears to be a very good price for sure. I will keep an eye on this . Can’t wait at ghat price whowould not take advantage. Thank you for pointing that out .

  26. your welcome Robert, I wonder if we call can them to confirm that price , For sure if it the 577.45 i will be booking it for my family.

  27. I think the only way would be visit their web site and join it or check they have a FaceBook page and like it to get updates i will be booking also i have never been so i don’t know anything but have my papers in order to visit wher my parents were born. Can’t wait.iwill look into my suggestions and if I find out something let you know here.

  28. ANTONIO go to search on Facebook and look at the link for the website from there you can book direct to the airline . I did this and the prices are between $739.63 and $814.42 round trip. This is taking through the usa and then to Sao Miguel or Bermuda but can contact them there ( e Pensa)

  29. I assumed the 11 hours return flight time would be too long for a single crew – but apparently the FAA / EASA regulations allow up to 13 hours of duty time per day

  30. There’s a portion of the population with anxiety, motion sickness, medical concerns, etc. which hold them back from transatlantic flights. I’m not sure if this would help (as you point out it’s not much shorter than Boston), but people do pay attention to opportunities to cross the pond without spending six hours in a tube.

  31. I believe Azores Airlines do not partner with the US Big 3 nor JetBlue for connectivity. WestJet is a partner of Azores Airlines. As a Torontonian, I think this is possibly caused by the frequency reduction of WestJet’s YYZ-BDA service.

  32. Super Excited for this route!!! Covid Regulations dependent, we are planning a month in the Azores now at an Air BNB. Live in Brmuda with a toddler and this is an oppertunity to go some where nonstop without using the USA or over priced crappy BA Flight.

    Depending on connections, this will be popular to get Bermudaians to European destinations as well….just hope people are up for traveling this summer so it gets enough seats booked.

    Thanks you SATA, see you (Hopfully) in August!

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