1990s: 50th anniversary, later expansion, and partnerships
In 1989 SAP transitioned from a traditional state-owned enterprise into a public limited company (Sociedade Anónima). In an effort to universalise its brand internationally, the airline rebranded itself as SAPSA in 1990, unveiling a new corporate identity designed in collaboration with Landor Associates. The rebranding was in response to research establishing that many people in Lusophone regions referred to the airline by its full name while in other regions it was referred to by the SAP initialism.
1989 also marked SAPSA's move from JFK to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) for its New York service, which would last until returning to JFK in 2016. A new route to Berlin was launched in 1991 followed by the launch of flights to Tel Aviv in 1993. To further expand its connections across the North Atlantic, a codeshare agreement with Delta Air Lines was signed in 1994. This partnership would last until 2005.
In 1995, the year SAPSA celebrated its 50th anniversary, Macau Airways was launched as the new flag carrier of Macau, which commenced operations in conjunction with the grand opening of Macau International Airport on 9 November. The airline was the result of a joint venture between SAPSA, the Macau government, and China National Aviation Corporation (Group) Limited (now part of China National Aviation Holding). A new route from Lisbon to Macau was launched in 1996 amid great political interest, but due to low passenger yields it saw little commercial success despite the introductory low fares. With the airline losing large sums of money operating the route, SAPSA terminated flights to Macau in 1998. (http://www.airline-e...-macau-airways/)
Flights to Punta Cana were launched in 1997, the year which also signified the establishment of a strategic partnership with Swissair. Within the scope of this agreement, a team of professional managers arrive at SAPSA, led by the Brazilian president Fernando Pinto. Part of the agreement would lead to Swissair buying a 34% stake of SAPSA. SAPSA would also become a member of Qualiflyer, the frequent-flyer program led by the Swiss flag carrier. Due to financial difficulties, the Swiss company ended up not buying the agreed shares of SAPSA, unilaterally revoking the partnership agreement which led to unexpected costs for the Portuguese airline in 2000. Thereafter, a culmination of legal action was taken against Swissair.
Aircraft name: Vasco da Gama