The airline United Airlines will continue to operate in the Azores next summer, the regional secretary for Tourism, Mobility and Infrastructure said today.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to say that United [Airlines] will continue to fly to the Azores next summer,” said Berta Cabral.
She was speaking on the first day of the plenary session of the September legislative session, the first after the summer break, of the Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region of the Azores, in Horta, in response to a question from Socialist MP Vasco Cordeiro to the Regional Government (PSD/CDS-PP/PPM) on air transport.
“As much as it pains you [the Socialists], because at one point I did wonder, and I still wonder, if the PS really wanted Ryanair to leave and the whole thing not to work out. But it did. It worked. Because Ryanair’s basic position was to leave the Azores and we did everything we could to prevent that from happening,” he continued.
In his opinion, Ryanair’s continued presence in the Azores, albeit with fewer flights in winter, means that the regional government has achieved its goal.
In her reply to Vasco Cordeiro, she said that the process with Ryanair “is absolutely transparent” and that it “is out in the open for all Azoreans to see”.
“Therefore, I completely reject your claims of a lack of transparency, a lack of timely information and arrogance on the part of the government (…) because they had all the information at the moment it existed, because it only exists when the talks are over,” he said, recalling that it involved Ryanair, the Azorean government, Visit Azores, Ana Vinci and Turismo de Portugal.
During the debate, Berta Cabral also said that Ryanair is an airline that “brings tourism to the Azores” and that businesspeople appreciate it.
“If Azores Airlines is being privatized today, it’s because someone buried Azores Airlines,” he said, addressing Vasco Cordeiro, who was once the leader of the Azorean executive.
According to the Azorean Secretary for Tourism, Mobility and Infrastructure, at the moment, despite the ongoing privatization processes, TAP “has already significantly increased the number of flights to the Azores for the winter” and SATA Air Açores Internacional “has also significantly increased its flights for the winter”.
“And that’s how the market works,” said Berta Cabral.
In his questioning, Vasco Cordeiro also asked the Regional Government what the overall cost of Ryanair’s operation would be. The government official replied that it would be 1.8 million euros in the first year and 2.3 million euros in the second year (with the doubling of international routes).
In conclusion, Berta Cabral admitted that the agreement with Ryanair “was a good deal”, because the company “wanted to leave the Azores”: “That being the case, we have to consider that the outcome was positive”.
The Secretary for Tourism, Mobility and Infrastructure also said that “more respect” is needed for entrepreneurs and tourism because it is a sector that represents 538 million euros a year (around 12% of GDP) for the regional economy.
Tourism revenues are growing “more and more every year” and this year they have increased by 18%, he explained.