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Ponta Delgada ,  April 13, 2020

Freight transport to and from the Azores continues on a regular basis despite COVID-19 pandemic

The Regional Secretary for Transport and Public Works stated today that the Regional Government has been working together with SATA since March to survey the needs of the Azorean air carrier arising from the potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on its operation, as well as to analyse some proposed measures to address these impacts. 

Ana Cunha spoke during a hearing at the Committee on Economic Affairs of the Legislative Assembly. On the occasion, she added that “this document is in the process of being completed and will be sent to the National Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC), which is responsible for preparing, together with the National Government, a package of fiscal and financial measures to support the aviation sector.” 

The Secretary for Transport also recalled that the Regional Government authorised last month an increase of 80 million Euros in the share capital of SATA Air Açores, S.A. to be subscribed and paid in full by the Region Autonomous of the Azores from 2020 to 2023. 

“This capital increase, besides continuing the strategy of restructuring the corporate public sector, through greater financial autonomy and consolidation of SATA Air Açores, SA, is in line with the legal obligations of the Autonomous Region of the Azores as a shareholder. It is motivated by the need to ensure the continued development of its mission of public interest, to bring a new direction into its activities and to achieve a balance in financial terms, being fundamental areas for its performance under normal market conditions," said the Secretary Regional. 

Ana Cunha also stressed that, in view of the drastic reduction in demand, particularly in Europe, exceeding 90%, the European Union has “relaxed the rules on support that will translate into State aid.”

Regarding the process of divesting 49% of the share capital of Azores Airlines, the Regional Secretary stated that, at the moment, given the current situation, a definitive decision on this matter has not yet been taken, adding this is not detrimental to the company or the Region.
Ana Cunha also stated that SATA continues to operate, particularly in cases of urgent situations and in the transport of goods between Mainland Portugal and the Azores. In this regard, “it has been transporting an average of eight to nine tonnes to Mainland Portugal and an average of two and three tonnes to the Region.” 

In addition to Azores Airlines, Sata Air Açores also continues cargo operations, having converted a Dash Q200 aircraft to transport inter-island cargo, thus responding to the needs that have arisen in the meantime.
The Regional Secretary stressed that “both SATA and Atlânticoline continue to transport patients.” In the case of Atlânticoline, “it transports patients who need to receive care at Horta Hospital on a daily basis." 

Also heard on the maritime transport of goods, she added that “there are no constraints, other than those that resulted from the dockers' strike in Lisbon and the absolutely necessary contingency plans implemented by the Regional Port Authorities as well as by the stevedoring companies OPERTER and OPERPDL, with a view to protecting its human resources while ensuring the operations of port infrastructures.” 
In this regard, Ana Cunha mentioned that “six container ships, two bulk carriers and a gas carrier arrived in Ponta Delgada between March 23 and 29. 

The Regional Secretary also stressed the monitoring that the Regional Cohesion and Economic Development Support Fund has been carrying out as concerns the supply of Corvo Island, coordinating with local operators and with SATA the supply operations to this island. 

Asked about the Government's decision to cancel the international public tender for the design and construction of a passenger and vehicle transport ship, Ana Cunha explained that the European Union “has allowed the available Community funds to be channelled to essential investments in health and in the economy, given the current situation caused by the pandemic. It has also authorised financial transfers without limitations between axes, even in cases where the application had already been approved, as was the case of this ship.”
Regarding the Public Works and Communications sectors, the Regional Secretary added that the Regional Government "has been working to maintain the schedule for the implementation of public works in all governmental departments." 

Ana Cunha stated that the Regional Directorate for Public Works and Communications (DROPC) has been involved in several actions in conjunction with Social Security and Health departments. In this context, she pointed out, as example, "the logistical support for the implementation of testing centres at the Health Centres of Ponta Delgada, Vila do Porto, Calheta de São Jorge and Graciosa, the rehabilitation of the infirmary of Ribeira Grande Health Centre, and the survey of infrastructures and the respective technical inspection for accommodation of passengers landing on São Miguel Island or for patients." 

According to her, DROPC also played a key role in "the implementation of the operational command post to support the sanitary cordons established in the six municipalities of São Miguel and in the assembly of 30 control posts, mobilising 60 workers and vehicles." 

In the area of Communications, DROPC has been assisting the Regional Government in incident management, designated as "User Support and Capacity Management," in the management and support of the "Teams" platform, in the monitoring of communications, as well as in cybersecurity monitoring and control, through the Coordinating Centre for Communications, Information Technologies and Innovation (CCCTII).


Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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