Europe’s next cheap holiday destination?

Santa Maria

Santa Maria

A new location has appeared on the flight routes of Europe’s budget airlines – the Azores.

About 850 miles off the coast of Portugal, the islands in the Atlantic Ocean were once a stopping point for Concorde.

Travel writer Simon Calder asks whether they could become the next big holiday destination.

When I touched down at Santa Maria, I was disappointed not to find a sign saying “Welcome to Concorde Island”. But I cheered up a few seconds later. In the middle of the pint-sized terminal, I found the Concorde Bar serving beer for barely £1 a pint – 1980s prices.

In the 80s Concorde Island as I shall call it, was one of the elite locations served by the Anglo-French supersonic jet. As Venezuela grew fabulously rich on oil, Air France chose to connect Paris and Caracas at twice the speed of sound.

The plane’s thirsty engines couldn’t make it all the way to South America on a single tank, and Santa Maria was the obvious pit stop: while this mid-Atlantic fragment of Portugal measures only 10 miles by six, with a population of less than 6,000, it boasts the ocean’s longest runway – courtesy of a now-abandoned American base.

Thus the rich, powerful and glamorous were invited to stretch their legs and perhaps visit the Concorde Bar while their aircraft was refuelled ahead of blasting off to Caracas.

Click here for the full article on the BBC.

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