Palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1051 posts, RR: 16 Posted (1 year 12 months 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 7155 times:
In contrast to my recent travels in Australia flying Dash 8s and Saab 340s, after returning to the UK, I spent a few days in Lisbon just after Easter exploring a city I had never visited before. I had always wanted to go to Lisbon, ever since I saw a picture of the Monument to the Discoveries many years ago, which celebrates Portugal’s age of maritime discoveries in the 15th and 16th Centuries. Built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Henry the Navigator, the Monument is located in Belem district a short distance from the centre of Lisbon.
I finally got my wish to see the Monument both by day and night along with a host of other sites that makes Lisbon a wonderful place to visit.
From the Castle of St George
Gorgeous old trams still trundle around the streets
All the pavements are elaborately patterned using tiles
Jeronimos Monastery, Belem district
Whilst I was immersing myself in Portuguese maritime history, this did not mean ignoring that other form of transportation which A.netters are resolutely passionate about - aviation. I decided to do a day trip from Lisbon (LIS) to Funchal (Madeira) (FNC), having been inspired by a trip report posted by Planehunter last year: Awesome Approach, Splendid Scenery: LIS, FNC & TAP (by PlaneHunter Oct 30 2010 in Trip Reports)
The plan was to fly SATA International, Portugal’s “other” airline to FNC on an A320 in the early morning, I would spend the day there (which happened to be the day of the Royal Wedding in the UK) and return back to Lisbon in the early evening on a TAP Portugal A321.
This would be my first flight on SATA and my first time in FNC
Greatcircle Mapper shows the simple routing as follows:
The Madeiran archipelago actually comprises of several islands including the main island of Madeira as well as Porto Santo, the Desertas and the Savage Islands.
To continue the maritime “theme” from my time in Lisbon, Madeira was of interest to me as it was re-discovered by Portuguese sailors in the service of Henry the Navigator in 1419, and settled after 1420. The archipelago is considered to be the first territorial discovery of the exploratory period of the Portuguese Age of Discovery.
Welcome to my latest trip report.
Friday 29 April 2011 SATA International Flight: S4 461/TP 6461 LIS-FNC A320 CS-TKO “Diaspora” Flight time: 1 hr 25 mins
The flight was actually sold via the TAP website which operates on a codeshared basis with them. Booking on the TAP website was relatively hassle free and I received my confirmation via email soon after booking a few months before leaving the UK for Lisbon.
A very early start to the day found me whisking my way through the deserted streets of Lisbon in a taxi to Lisbon’s Portela Airport. For some reason, Lisbon taxi drivers, at least the ones that picked me up, were all men in their 60s and each and every one of them had a desire to see how fast they could make it from my hotel to the airport. Needless to say, we arrived at Terminal 2 in record time, which was fairly empty. I arrived just after 6am for a 730am departure. I found it strange that T2 is only for domestic departures (but not domestic arrivals). It also looks and feels like a temporary structure. I don’t know whether that was intentional, but LIS looks to be in dire need of further expansion, which at the current site, looks impossible.
There were more security personnel than passengers at this time, so I was careful about taking pictures.
Very little activity at this time and no lines at check in, I walked up to the counter and a very cheery SATA employee checked me in for my outbound flight and asked whether I wanted my boarding pass for the return sector back to LIS. Very nice of her to ask. With a smile and directions to the gate, I was on my way. My first impressions of SATA were positive.
Going through security was not too painful. Once through, I decided to see if I could find the Blue Lounge - which is the SATA lounge in T2. My PP membership allowed me entry into the lounge, so I figured I could do with some coffee to wake me up.
Finding the lounge to be one floor up, I wandered up the stairs, and took a quick pic of the scene down below - airside. Still not that busy but like the rest of Lisbon I imagined, things were slowly coming to life for the day, and the airport was no exception.
The lounge was staffed by a single lady who looked to be in her 30s and moderately bored - she wasn’t overly friendly or warm so I quickly did my formalities and moved to find somewhere to sit. The lounge opens at 6am so I was the first person there for the day.
I would rate the lounge as poor to average. It’s small and windowless, and shows signs of age. Some coffee stains on the carpet. Drinks, whilst being kept in a refridgerator, were not cold at all. Perhaps the fridge is turned off overnight? There were virtually no food items at all, apart from a small tray of custard egg tarts and a couple of other pastries. Thankfully the coffee was OK and I felt much better after a couple of cups. Not wanting to hang around for that long, I headed back out to the departure area to find a seat and wait for our departure call.
There are no jetbridges at T2 - all aircraft are parked remotely and most, if not all, passengers are bussed to their aircraft.
Departure screen showing our flight to be on time from Gate 206.
Just after 650am, boarding calls were made in Portuguese and English and a medium sized group of passengers made their way out to the waiting bus. The flight did not look like it was going to be full. The tarmac was full of TAP aircraft, some Portugalia EM145s and a couple of SATA aircraft.
While waiting for the bus to fill up, I was able to snap a quick pic of this TP narrowbody, complete with the aircraft library van parked out front. Never seen that before. In the background, two A310s resting up.
Once full, the bus pulled away and were on our way out to the ramp to find our SATA A320.
The aircraft itself was parked next to a TAP 319 that was also being readied for a flight to Munich. This one is for you Planehunter!
Early morning in Lisbon as CS-TTB is being prepared with a row of TAP widebodies in the far distance
Close up of TAP territory
Hello SATA - my ride to Funchal. I really like SATA’s colour scheme. There’s something very simple but classy about it.
Getting off the bus, I was directed to the rear airstairs, as I had seat 21A. This gave an opportunity to get another angle of the CS-TKO, the A320 that would be operating today’s flight. The aircraft was delivered to SATA in 2009 and is leased from ILFC and was the first aircraft painted in the new livery. I was interested in the aircraft’s name “Diaspora” which I thought was slightly unusual given the meaning of the word. I assume that it represents the fact that throughout history, many Azoreans have migrated to all parts of the world.
Climbing the rear airstairs
Climbing the steps and getting up close and personal with SATA’s tag line “The Atlantic and You” which formed the inspiration for the title of this report.
I was greeted at the door by a lovely flight attendant who smiled and wished everyone good morning in Portuguese (and English!) and directed me forward to my seat. It looked like the flight was busy but not full.
My row - seats were thick dark blue leather type, which turned out to be very comfortable.
The flight boarded fairly quickly and I was lucky to have the row of three to myself. Most other rows looked occupied with mostly locals travelling - I did not get the sense that there were may daytrippers or tourists onboard today (other than me). At least it meant for a comfortable ride down to Funchal.
The flight attendants this morning were immaculately dressed. Very professional and I liked their uniforms very much. The safety demonstration was done in both Portuguese and English.
View from the window of seat 21A of our fellow SATA aircraft CS-TKK.
SATA International (SATA Internacional Serviços E Transportes Aéreos) , first established in 1990, is based in Ponta Delgada, in the Azores. It operates flights from there to Madeira, mainland Portugal, and other destinations in Europe such as Dublin, Zurich, Copenhagen, London and Paris. North America is served (using A310s) with flights to Boston and Toronto. Charter flights are operated to places such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Las Palmas as well as regional destinations in the UK, such as East Midlands and Exeter.
It has a small fleet of A310s, A320s, as well as Dash 8 - 400s and -200s for inter-island flights.
SATA states that is has finally achieved its goal - to offer flights between the Azores and the world. Perhaps an overly grandiose statement when they don’t fly beyond Europe or North America but getting to the Azores, and Madeira, has never been easier.
We were all seated and ready to go, and with that, the doors were closed. After pushing back, and going through the safety demonstration, I could see a TAP A320 on the other side of CS-TKK.
The SATA “Instrucoes de seguranca”
Seat pitch and leg room from 21A
We would be departing from RW03 today so we had ended up taxiing around a few parked aircraft - including this gaggle of Portuguese delicacies!
LIS still seems to be heaven for A310 lovers. I’ve never seen so many on the ground in recent times. Nice to see SATA new and old livery on their A310s and in between, a HifFly 310 still in Oman Air’s basic colours.
The A310 closest in, CS-TKN, was originally delivered new to Austrian Airlines in 1992 as OE-LAD.
Turning onto the active runway with the terminal buildings in the distance
Without any delay, we commenced our take off roll - passing many of of the aircraft I’d just seen as we gathered speed. It was quite a powerful take off.
Just before lifting off, I had a glimpse of the TAAG Angola 772 that was at the gate. TAAG remain relatively obscure in Europe - with LIS I believe being their only current port of call.
It was still quite murky as we lifted off although the day had been forecast to be nice. The sun was just starting to break through the cloud as we gathered height.
Views of the Tagus as we gained height and commenced a steep left turn
Soon after departure, the small screens flipped down, revealing our flight path for today. Not much to see land-wise, not surprisingly. There was to be little IFE on this flight - just some information on Madeira as well as some interesting information about SATA, including their fleet! Good for aviation lovers. Note the new style Airbus interior on this A320.
Still climbing and setting course for FNC
There were a few glimpses of the ground below in between the low lying cloud
And the clouds were certainly building up today
The last remaining Portguese land mass soon slipped past as we began our flight out over the Atlantic.
There was a friendly welcome message from the cockpit in Portuguese and English and all that was left was to look out of the window and snooze.
Getting a lot brighter, the higher we climbed
Once we had levelled off, and were by now out over the Atlantic, the crew started serving refreshments. On today’s flight, drinks, including coffee and tea were available, along with some small sweet biscuits.
The portions were tiny and when compared to a flight of similar length in Australia, Qantas managed to serve a full breakfast. Despite all the complaining that goes on about Qantas, they do provide a high level of service compared to other airlines. Having said that, the SATA crew was lovely and drinks and snacks were all served with a smile. The crew seemed genuinely happy to be onboard and this really showed through.
CLOUD WATCHING WITH SATA
At various periods through the flight, we passed some interesting cloud formations. Quite spectacular and an interesting vista courtesy of mother nature.
Starting with this
The flight seemed to go very quickly and it felt like next to no time before the initial descent started. The cabin was prepared - the crew, despite not serving much in the way of food, had done a second drinks run and collected any remaining rubbish and always seemed to be active. They weren’t simply hiding down the back the whole flight.
Our descent was very smooth, but still no views of Madeira yet. I was hoping that I was on the best side of the aircraft for the approach, having remembered Planehunter’s dilemma on which side of the aircraft was better!
Thankfully, luck was on my side and I sighted land ahead was we got lower. Before long we were flying parallel with the island. At this point, I wondered whether we would follow the same flight path as Planehunter did or whether we would land in this direction and not pass the airport on the downwind leg.
I would soon find out which direction we would land. Wind power is clearly a good source of energy in this part of the world.
The mountainous terrain of Madeira soon came fully into view as we tracked along the island. It looked like I was again lucky - we would pass the airport and then double back.
Passing the settlement of Canical
My first sighting on the airport - with the extension to the runway on stilts!
The airport was once infamous for its short runway which, surrounded by high mountains and the ocean, made it a tricky landing for even the most experienced of pilots. The original runway was only 1,600 metres (5,200 ft) in length, but was extended by 200 metres (660 ft) 8 years after the crash of TAP425 in 1977 and subsequently rebuilt in 2000, almost doubling the size of the runway, building it out over the ocean. Instead of using landfill, the extension was built on a series of 180 columns, each being about 70 metres (230 ft) tall.
The columns are clearly visible in this view
The airport more generally, just before turning right to make our approach. The sea down below looked dark and glassy. Everyone seem captivated by the views at this point - with several people taking photos from their window seats.
Madeira, just as we commenced our sharp right turn
Still turning, with the airport in the far distance now. The weather looked a little threatening so I was wondering whether the approach would be very bumpy - FNC is known for some very interesting and wild approaches. For those who aren’t fans of flying, FNC might be better reached by boat!
Having made our turn, I was now looking out to see again, and the weather out to see did not look any better.
Making a slight adjustment, and now on final approach
Flaps well and truly down and sinking lower for the runway at FNC
The approach was indeed a smooth one, with just a couple of further minor adjustments to counter a little bit of chop, before making a solid touchdown on Runway 05.
Slowing down with everything hanging out, with the Desertas in the background on the horizon.
Still with everything hanging out, we made our turn to begin taxiing back to the terminal, which can be seen in the distance. Fairly quiet at this time of the morning, with one other SATA A320 being kept company by a Thomas Cook Belgium A320.
Des res - yes, please - I would love my home to be here too !
Just as we pulled onto our stand, our fellow SATA A320 CS-TKJ was departing. One in, one out!
Welcome to Funchal! The flight had ended. Stairs were driven up to both the front and rear doors allowing passengers to deplane quickly. The cabin crew were at each door thanking everyone and wishing them a pleasant time in Madeira. A nice touch. I gathered my possessions and headed out onto the tarmac - getting my first breaths of the wonderfully fresh air - even at the airport ! Some rain had passed through and everything just felt fresh and clean.
A look back at “Diaspora” as the last remaining passengers leave.
We were directed into the terminal, but before doing so, managed another pic of our aircraft resting on its stand. I was unsure whether the authorities would be so welcoming of pics on the ground at FNC as I had read that they don’t really like people taking pictures.
I was inside the terminal in no time, and with no luggage to collect, I wandered around the terminal for a bit, before heading up to the open air spotter’s deck which FNC is well known for.
Outside the terminal area, with the Lisbon-esque tiles lining the walkways.
WATCHING PLANES AT FUNCHAL
When it opened in 1964, the airport was called Santa Catarina Airport. It no longer carries that name, but still evokes the feeling of a bygone era in aviation when airports were places people were encouraged to visit - just to watch the planes.
The current terminal dates back to 1973 and the viewing facility at FNC is absolutely first class. Long open decks where you can see and photograph all the action unhindered by dirty glass or paranoid security officials. There are no jetbridges - all passenger must walk out or be bussed to their aircraft. Throughout the time I was there, I was able to get some pictures of the day’s activity. There is an equivalent deck airside as well.
Wide view of the viewing terrace with a Swiftair 733F which had just arrived.
Niki A320 arriving from Innsbruck
It wouldn’t be right to including FNC without any of the local carriers - one of the many TAP flights to Lisbon getting ready to push back
My aircraft still awaiting its return flight to Lisbon, with Thomas Cook A320 getting ready to depart
Easyjet had several flights into FNC that day
Arriving from Gatwick
The lush and unique landscape of Madeira is evident - even at the airport
Transavia 737-800 departing
CS-TTP arriving from Porto with a puff of smoke
Being a big Dash 8 fan, it was great to catch the SATA Dash 8 - 200 CS-TRC departing for Porto Santo.
Gear up and heading to Porto Santo
And finally, “Diaspora” thundering down the runway for Lisbon - good bye SATA and thank you!
In summary, I was impressed with SATA International. A routine short flight admittedly - but it was executed very well. The crew seemed motivated and friendly and came across very professionally. The aircraft was immaculately clean both inside and out and the flight was on time. Catering could have been a little more generous, but I guess that’s fairly standard in many parts of Europe these days. Where SATA do need to improve is on the ground. The lounge in LIS was really well below a standard what you might otherwise expect, and the the less than friendly welcome did not help. Terminal 2 at LIS is also a little basic but that’s not SATA’s fault.
However, everything else about the SATA experience on this day was excellent and I would not hesitate to “fly the Atlantic” with SATA International again.
I will aim to post a report on the return trip on TAP Portugal back to LIS.
Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave a comment.
Palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1051 posts, RR: 16 Reply 4, posted (1 year 12 months 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 6147 times:
Hi Markus -
Quote: I´ve done that ride also on SATA in the other direction FNC-LIS back in 2009.
Nice to hear from you. I've been following your travels around - am just reading through your latest report. Thanks for your comments. How did you find SATA when you flew with them back in 2009? Had they rolled out their new colours then?
Hi Lee -
Quote: FNC looks amazing for some spotting. The lush vegetation and the hillside really adding to the scenes. I will put it onto my ever growing "must visit" list.
Thanks for your comments. FNC is more accessible than ever. Lots of flights to choose from - many direct from the UK. It's quite a unique place and considerably different from the Canary Islands, which are just a little further south.
Hope your trip through LIS in a couple of weeks goes well. It's a bit of a mess (in my view) but there is some nice avia to be had there - particularly the TAP longhaul fleet. I managed to see quite a few of their A330s and 2 of the 340s.
Quote: In Rio the pavement at least on the road along the beach have the same or very similar pattern, wonder who copied who?
Hi there. Yes, the tiling is distinctly Portuguese although I suspect given Rio's history, the Portuguese probably thought that the tiles worked well in Lisbon - so why not Rio? It gives the whole place a very unique feel. Having said that, the surfaces in Lisbon are now fairly uneven so you really have to watch where you are walking.. in parts! Thanks for your comments.
Palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1051 posts, RR: 16 Reply 7, posted (1 year 12 months 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 5719 times:
Quote: That's a bit disappointing - TP served sandwichs and muffins between LIS and FNC last year. I'm also surprised to see old-style seats in that relatively new bird.
Yes, the food served on TP on the return trip was more substantial, but in my opinion, wasn't that tasty or well presented, so on balance, I was not overly disappointed with SATA's efforts. I was also surprised about the seats - was expecting Recaro slim line seats for some reason !!!
Quote: Great to see CS-TRC and also CS-TTH which I flew on last year.
I remembered that you flew on the Dash 8 - 200, and I wished I had more time there as I was thinking of doing a further side trip on the Dash 8.
Quote: I cannot wait to see that one!
The return flight was on an A321 which was totally packed. A very different experience to SATA and I'll try and get around to reporting on it soon.
FlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1705 posts, RR: 41 Reply 8, posted (1 year 12 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 5234 times:
Very nice to see this report about SATA and Funchal! I did a same kind of trip last summer, albeit in the opposite direction, flew down to FNC with TAP and two days later back to LIS with SATA. There are reports about the whole summer tour here if you are interested.
Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter): I don’t know whether that was intentional, but LIS looks to be in dire need of further expansion, which at the current site, looks impossible.
It is exactly that. At peak times it is very congested, you can spend half an hour or so waiting to take off in a worst case scenario. There are plans to build an entirely new airport somewhere 40-50 kilometers north of Lisbon (with the appropriate high speed train connection), but I think the current perilous economic state of Portugal has stopped those for the time being.
Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter): I found it strange that T2 is only for domestic departures (but not domestic arrivals).
Me too. I had no idea about this until we got bussed in to T1 on arrival. Really weird, but maybe it is to facilitate domestic - international connections. A lot of TAP flights to Europe originate in FAO or OPO and route via LIS, so that would make connections on that direction easier and faster.
Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter): While waiting for the bus to fill up, I was able to snap a quick pic of this TP narrowbody, complete with the aircraft library van parked out front. Never seen that before
I think I saw a similar van at Arlanda once!
Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter): I was interested in the aircraft’s name “Diaspora” which I thought was slightly unusual given the meaning of the word. I assume that it represents the fact that throughout history, many Azoreans have migrated to all parts of the world.
Heh, I was wondering about the very same thing when I saw my plane's name! And came to the same conclusion as well.
Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter): My row - seats were thick dark blue leather type, which turned out to be very comfortable.
Is that a Maersk tail? What an earth is it doing in LIS? Or does Cimber still have some birds in the old livery around?
Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter): The mountainous terrain of Madeira soon came fully into view as we tracked along the island. It looked like I was again lucky - we would pass the airport and then double back.
I'm not sure but I think that pretty much all landings at FNC are from this direction. I actually sat on the other side and preferred that as you had the mountains and all the houses on the hill sides flashing past you really close, a very scenic approach!
Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter): Long open decks where you can see and photograph all the action unhindered by dirty glass or paranoid security officials. There are no jetbridges - all passenger must walk out or be bussed to their aircraft. Throughout the time I was there, I was able to get some pictures of the day’s activity. There is an equivalent deck airside as well.
Yep, I loved the observation deck. Although I had no idea they actually had a landside one as well!
Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter): Being a big Dash 8 fan, it was great to catch the SATA Dash 8 - 200 CS-TRC departing for Porto Santo.
Yep, one of the flights I'd really like to do is to take one of these birds between FNC and LPA.
Sultanils From Belgium, joined Mar 2010, 1173 posts, RR: 29 Reply 9, posted (1 year 12 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 5216 times:
Very nice story with outstanding pics (what camera do you use?). That Thomas (the) Cook looks very familiar to me, flew her a while ago into AGP. I also liked your pics of LIS, not too many reports around here covering that airport. And indeed an apron full of active A310's, that's very rare nowadays.
I'm on guard for your return report,
Palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1051 posts, RR: 16 Reply 10, posted (1 year 12 months 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 5137 times:
Hi there. Thanks for your comments and feedback!
Quote: Very nice to see this report about SATA and Funchal! I did a same kind of trip last summer, albeit in the opposite direction, flew down to FNC with TAP and two days later back to LIS with SATA. There are reports about the whole summer tour here if you are interested.
I will check them out shortly - always enjoy reading your reports and yes, I do remember you taking a trip to that part of the world last year.
Quote: It is exactly that. At peak times it is very congested, you can spend half an hour or so waiting to take off in a worst case scenario. There are plans to build an entirely new airport somewhere 40-50 kilometers north of Lisbon (with the appropriate high speed train connection), but I think the current perilous economic state of Portugal has stopped those for the time being.
Yes, not much going to happen in the current economic climate in Portugal. Sadly, they really need to expand. I did not realise just how many TP 330s there were. It's amazing that for the longhauls, there are only about 5-6 jetbridges !
Quote: Me too. I had no idea about this until we got bussed in to T1 on arrival. Really weird, but maybe it is to facilitate domestic - international connections. A lot of TAP flights to Europe originate in FAO or OPO and route via LIS, so that would make connections on that direction easier and faster.
That would make a lot of sense. I can't think of any other reason why.
Quote: Im not sure but I think that pretty much all landings at FNC are from this direction. I actually sat on the other side and preferred that as you had the mountains and all the houses on the hill sides flashing past you really close, a very scenic approach!
When I was there, they were mixing the runways up pretty much throughout the day in terms of departures but I do recall most if not all the approaches were from the prevailing direction (ie the direction we landed in). I wanted to see the island and double back - I found it better being on the other side of the aircraft, particularly as the morning sun would have been shining right into the window - with reflections (my pet hate!)
Quote: Yep, I loved the observation deck. Although I had no idea they actually had a landside one as well
Yes, almost the same length of deck (as the airside version) and this was connected to an indoor cafe so it was easy to get drinks and snacks throughout the day.
Quote: Yep, one of the flights I'd really like to do is to take one of these birds between FNC and LPA
You and me both!
Quote: Very nice story with outstanding pics (what camera do you use?). That Thomas (the) Cook looks very familiar to me, flew her a while ago into AGP. I also liked your pics of LIS, not too many reports around here covering that airport. And indeed an apron full of active A310's, that's very rare nowadays.
Thanks very much for your comments. I was using a combination of my Sony point and shoot and a Canon 550D. LIS is an interesting airport, if not a little chaotic. I enjoyed wandering around there and seeing all the TAP longhauls as well. LIS is indeed a haven for A310s - they seemed to be everywhere!!