Begun February of 1995 the newer and rebuilt
Santa Catarina Airport should be ready in the year 2000. The pillars,
above in the picture, each weigh about 800 tons each, and about
180 of them are being built. This extension of the airport is
the biggest civil engineering project ever undertaken on Madeira
- employing about 1 800 people - and constructed day and night
now. It is being financed to a large proportion by the European
The Portuguese Airline, TAP - Air Portugal, runs an extensive
and quite dominant programme on the scheduled services to the
island from Lisbon. Many other TAP flights from other European
cities stopover in Lisbon before their sojourn to Funchal. However,
once a week, for example, flights change between the Azores and
Madeira, or Faro, in the Algarve. TAP also runs a service between
Madeira and the smaller island of Porto Santo.
Yet many flights are also Charter Flights. Invariably, your local
holiday orientated travel agency should have some scheme that
involves one of the many different charter operations to Madeira.
Some of the operators include Monarch Air, Air 2000, TUF (Germany),
and so on. Very good prices can be had from places such as Amsterdam,
Dusseldorf, Munich, Stuttgartt, Hannover, Berlin, Nuremburg, Hamburg,
London / Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Brussels (some
very cheap flights from here...), Luxembourg, Toulouse in France,
and even flights to and from the Canary Islands.
The Group Pestana - a hotel chain of international profile -
has plans to launch "Air Madeira". The new charter-flights
operation would be geared towards bringing tourism from Canada,
the USA, and so on - especially on Golf Tourism.
Flights can take up to 4 hours from Northern Europe and any of
the horror stories expounded on the Airport Santa Catarina as
being one of the most dangerous airports in Europe should be dispelled:
the pilots are excellently and specially trained for this short
runway. Sometimes, the airport is forced closed due to bad weather
or winds. Fortunately, this does not happen that often.
The airport itself has several conveniences available upon arrival,
and departure, such as car hire facilities, taxis, a bus service
to and from Funchal, a duty free shop, restaurants, and shops
supplying international newspapers and snacks.
By the way, some humour: Santa Catarina has been claimed by some
as the "Biggest Airport" in the world. Well, it stands
to reason. The Airport stretches across two cities: the City of
Santa Cruz (on the northern end), and into the City of
Machico (on the southern end) !
(Not to mislead anyone, the airport is built on the border
between the two "Cities" (sic), even if they appear
to be large sized villages...)