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JOINT PRESS RELEASE

BEI/10/2

Luxembourg, 8 January 2010

EIB provides EUR 37 million to improve air transport within Azores and Madeira

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has granted a EUR 37 million (USD 53 million) loan to SATA Air Açores (SATA) for the acquisition of four turboprop aircraft to provide inter-island transport services within the Azores archipelago, replacing the same number of older aircraft.

In the words of EIB Vice-President Carlos Da Silva Costa, " This project, while improving fuel efficiency, is essential to secure the people of the islands’ mobility and provide easier access to public services in the region. It is crucial to ensure territorial and social cohesion at regional level, paving the way for the sustainable development of an ultra-peripheral European region, which means that this project will strongly contribute to economic and social cohesion within the EU and help meet the Bank’s and EU’s policy priorities” .

SATA’s Chairman, António Menezes, said: "we are delighted by the EIB’s decision to grant SATA Air Açores a loan on favourable terms."

The aircraft will be operated by SATA from its home base at Ponta Delgada (Azores) on essential public services within the Azores and Madeira islands as well as on services to the Canary Islands in Spain. In the Azores archipelago, the only alternative mode of transport to inter-island aviation is maritime transport – an unattractive alternative, in particular for passenger transport, due to the relatively long distances and rough waters.

Air transport plays a vital role in ensuring basic access to education and health services across the islands. The high geographical fragmentation of the archipelago, combined with low population density, means that many health and higher education services are concentrated on the islands of São Miguel and Terceira, making much of the population reliant on air transport to access them.

The new aircraft will replace less fuel efficient aircraft and will complete SATA’s fleet modernisation, which became necessary due to the age and technological level of the current fleet.

The EIB is the EU’s long-term financing institution promoting European objectives. Created in 1957, it operates in the 27 EU Member States and more than 130 countries worldwide. EIB financing operations are mounted in the framework of well defined EU policies. Improving transport networks and services is a Community priority owing to their importance in fostering the EU’s economic and social integration, the free movement of people and goods and the development of the Union’s less advantaged regions. However, the financing of aircraft purchase is limited to exceptional circumstances when very strong value added is demonstrated.

The SATA Group has grown constantly in recent years. With over sixty years’ experience in passenger and cargo air transport, today SATA has a more modern and functional organisational structure geared to the challenges of a highly demanding and competitive sector. The SATA Group’s fleet is split between its two air transport companies. The ATP aircraft (64 seats) and two Bombardier Q200s (37 seats) belong to SATA Air Açores, while SATA Internacional flies A310-300s with 222 seats and A320-200s with 165 seats operating links between the mainland and islands, Europe, the United States and Canada and serving an overall network of routes with over 50 destinations. The Group embraces five companies dealing with air transport, tourism, airport management and ground support to all airlines landing in the Azores.

Press contacts :

EIB – Press office – e-mail: press@eib.org – tel.: (+352) 43 79 21 000

Website: http://www.eib.org

SATA – José F. Gambôa – e-mail: josé.gamboa@sata.pt – tel.: (+351) 296 209 705

Website: http:// www.sata.pt


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