1990s: 50th anniversary, later expansion, and partnerships
In 1989 SAP transitioned from a traditional state-owned enterprise into a public limited company (Sociedade Anonima). 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 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, Beijing and Tokyo were added as new destinations to its route network.
1996 marked the introduction of service to Boston via Terceira Island, the inauguration of service to Macau, and the launch of SAPSA's website, followed by the launch of service to Punta Cana and Shanghai in 1997. Service to Goa and Macau would be discontinued in 1998 due to low passenger yields.
1997 also signified the establishment of a strategic alliance 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