Flights Will Begin on November 29th from JFK
Madeira is getting its first direct flight from the US. On November 29th. Weekly flights will begin from New York JFK to the capital city of Funchal. Azores Airlines will be facilitating the route, who also run direct flights to Lisbon and the Azores.
Madeira is an autonomous Portuguese region, located in the Atlantic Ocean, around 600 miles south of the coast of Portugal. Geographically, it is much closer to the Canary Islands, and the Moroccan coast is only 300 miles away. It is made up of three separate islands: Madeira, Porto Santo, and Desertas.
The islands have enjoyed a comparatively successful pandemic compared to other popular tourist destinations in Europe, and are hoping to capitalize on their momentum.
Their success navigating the choppy waters of COVID have earned them their best monthly tourist figures ever, not just post-pandemic. Their statistics suggest that August 2021 had more tourists than August 2019, long before the tribulations of COVID hit their shores.
This is in part because of their COVID Safe initiative. Starting in July 2020, early compared to most European destinations, Madeira welcomed guests flying in with one free COVID test. The tests could be taken before or after arrival, depending on the individual airline’s policies. If a passenger tested positive, complimentary lodging, meals, and medical support would be provided for the duration of the specified quarantine period.
Their preemptive strategy, and the luxury of having no hard borders, helped the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo to be named the two safest islands in Europe.
Now, the islands have no test requirements for those fully vaccinated. A free COVID test on arrival is still available for those who are not fully vaccinated. According to several local travel websites, the costs of accommodation for those who test positive will still be fully covered by the local authorities.
The Islands have also been pushing as a destination for golfers. As restrictions relax around the globe, golf tourism is fueling mass bookings at the world’s most prestigious courses. With courses suggesting up to a year of backlogs, some of Europes lesser known courses are hoping to cash in.
Madeira is one destination fully engaged in filling that space, hoping to combine its world class courses with the allure of its natural surroundings and vibrant wine culture. The winter flights now being offered, highlight an opportunity for those longing for a fairway and some warmer weather.
It remains to be seen whether the flight route will be a success for Azures Airlines, and the move seems tentative, with only one flight per week until March. But the potential for little Archipelago is high.
Those choosing to hit the sunny islands can enjoy a hassle free package if they wish, including accommodations, airport transfers, and a travel expert for guidance during the trip. Packages look to be set at around $1000 to start. Inovtravel, a Portuguese based travel agent is running the packages.
Secretary for Tourism on Madeira, Eduardo Jesus said “We are thrilled to welcome the new direct flight from New York City to Madeira this November and expand our presence in the U.S. market. With accessible flight options from a variety of U.S. getaways, we are eager to welcome more U.S. travelers in the coming months to Madeira’s paradise.”
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com