August 21, 1941 – the origin of SATA: the Sociedade de Estudos Aéreos

The Sociedade Açoreana de Estudos Aéreos, Lda. was established on August 21, 1941, in Ponta Delgada and the company’s partners were José Bensaúde, Augusto d’Athaide Corte Real Soares de Albergaria, Albano de Freitas da Silva Oliveira, Augusto Rebelo Arruda and Bensaúde e Companhia Lda., represented by António de Medeiros e Almeida.

Its mission was, as it is today, to serve the people of the Azores, to break their isolation and to shorten the distance between the islands of the archipelago and between the islands and the rest of the world. This was the desire of five illustrious micaelenses (residents of S. Miguel island) that took up the challenge of developing this project at a time when Europe was dealing with the Second World War.

Sociedade Açoriana de Estudos Aéreos

The stopovers made by Pan American World Airways at Horta, since 1939, on its routes from New York – Marseille and New York – London, both with stopover in Lisbon, made a great contribution towards achieving the Company objectives. This stopover from Pan American at the Azores diminished the need and importance of establishing a direct connection between the Azores and the Mainland, and as such, the Company focused on a feasibility study of internal connections, trying to connect Horta, the mooring point for Pan American hydroplanes until 1945, to the islands of São Miguel and Terceira, making the connection between the islands and the exterior a secondary plan due to its complex and challenging nature regarding investment and licences.

The long period between the creation of the Sociedade de Estudos Aéreos (on 1941) and the commercial exploitation of the routes initially concessioned to SATA (on 1947) was spent on the development of several bureaucratic diligences, although the company had already been granted by the Conselho Nacional do Ar, on 1942, a license that allowed it to transit between the Azores islands, there was a constant delay that blocked the start of aerial operations due to said diligences.

On 1947, the Sociedade de Estudos Aéreos changed its commercial name to Sociedade Açoreana de Transportes Aéreos Lda. (SATA), since the study that originated its creation was concluded; the Portuguese government had granted to SATA the provisional concession of the air connection between the islands of São Miguel, Santa Maria and Terceira; the current international conditions that, with the end of the World War, allowed the execution of such endeavour; and the cession, on 1946, of the infrastructure located on Santa Maria to the Portuguese Government for civil exploitation. The partners nominated as SATA delegate manager, Dr. Augusto Rebelo Arruda; the head office was established on Rua dos Mercadores, 7-11 and the first aircraft was a Beechcraft UC-45B Expeditor.

The Azores would now have its own airline which celebrates its 78th birthday this year, the oldest airline in the country still in operation and implemented to serve the unity and the economic development of all the people in the Azores.

Text: Jorge Câmara
Photos: SATA Archive and Horta’s Museum