Tuesday, 11 May 2010

WHAT? New Air Terminal = New Air Routes?

A spokesman (presumably a Government spokesman) speaking about the Government visit to the 5th edition of the Routes Europe Forum is reported as having said "The Gibraltar Delegation will be having a number of pre-arranged meetings with airlines to discuss new market opportunities in Gibraltar upon the completion of the new Air Terminal next year; a new Air Terminal of which Gibraltar will be justifiably proud"  . The Minister for Transport, Joe Holliday, is reported as saying that the new Air Terminal "... will provide the Gibraltar Delegation with the ideal opportunity to promote the excellent facilities that will become available in the New Air Terminal to a wide audience airline executives."

I do not profess any great knowledge of the travel or airline industry save as a passenger but am I expected to believe that the new Air Terminal is considered by the GSD administration to be a determinative factor in attracting new air routes to Gibraltar?   Am I expected to believe also that the failure of the air routes to Madrid, Tangier, Casablanca and Marrakesh that have been established and failed during the time in power of the present Government is down to not having a spanking brand new Air Terminal costing tens of millions of pounds?

I always thought it was down to other considerations like catchment area, demand, competitiveness, lack of alternative destinations nearby and I imagine much more.  Past events indicate that Gibraltar has issues on many of these fronts that have not been surmounted by any government and certainly not by the GSD Government.

Am I missing something?  Is the new Air Terminal the panacea that will cure everything that has led to such a singular failure in the past of new air routes or to attract new airlines and routes to Gibraltar?  I have my doubts but I am no expert.  I am sure that the Minister is advised by those far better qualified than me to know what a great competitive difference the new Air Terminal will make such as to attract new airlines and routes to Gibraltar.

But one second doesn't Malaga have a spanking new Air Terminal?  Will our spanking new Air Terminal be able to compete with Malaga's new Air Terminal, if indeed airlines seeking new routes are so persuaded by spanking new Air Terminals? I hope so, because, otherwise, Gibraltar is back where it started after having spent an inordinately large amount of public funds on a new Air Terminal and, to make matters worse  taxpayers will be lumbered with enormously increased running costs without additional revenues.


  1. Plato says:
    LW, What a daft post (LOL).

    On this post , I await the GSD supporters rally against you and with nervous excitement await their 'defence' of this magnificent and expensive building. Truely the 8th Wonder of the World. (I am not sure how many official Wonders exist, but our terminal must be among the contenders )

    Let the GSD supporters enlighten us as to why you are wrong. You MUST be wrong. I do hope this particular blog is a long one. Makes a change from GBC and the Chronicle and etc etc.
    Funny though, the Senior citizens in the Piazza corner agree with you. Obviously as wrong as you. But then, so is everyone I talk to on this monument. Everyone is wrong and sides with you. Everyone I talk to thinks like you. Obviously everyone is wrong!

    But what the people think is unimportant. Our present government at least on paper consults on everything. Even the Theatre Royal! Lovely building. Get that lesson into your head. Who do you think you are voicing the people's thoughts.

    Let us now hear the wonderful defence of the air terminal.

  2. LW- I think that you are voicing an opinion that has been articulated by many others for some time now. A new air terminal per se will not make Gib more attractive to airlines when establishing new routes. It will possibly give a good first impression on arrival but nothing more.

    It will be a positive step though if it forms part of a wider general overhaul of Gibraltar's traditional "tourist product". The Upper Rock could and should have better facilites. Our apes, which are the star attraction for most tourists, should be given more of a spot light. Much of the town within the city walls remains tatty. Our beaches and their promenades are still of a pitiful standard. Most of Gib's East side is in a shocking state.

    60 million quid could therefore go far to improve all the areas that I have described above to make Gib more attractive to airlines. The discussion as to whether the new airport warrants such expenditure and the issue of its new position are different matters.

  3. Hi Paco:

    Yes,I agree, this opinion has been articulated before in different guises, yesterday by the Opposition as I discovered on opening the Chronic this morning, and even by me (see my blog "Bust the Myth ... Caruana: God or Comedian" published in April)

  4. Brown Cow says

    I am am no fan of the airport but I do think that direct access from Spain will make the airport far easier to use if you are travelling to/from Spain. That is the only factor which I think may (once demonstrated) make Gibraltar airport more user friendly and therefore could have a positive impact on passenger numbers.

    I am not sure how much airlines bother with this sort of consideration though.

    Also, there is no sign as yet of any movement on the Spanish side. I wonder if Gibraltar will end up paying for construction on the otherside too.

  5. i have asked this question in an earlier blog but my question was never answered.

    so i shall copy and paste what i asked that day hopefully this time someone may shed some light:
    Carlito said...
    "80 million on a new terminal, but is government actually buying the airstrip itself?. as i understand it it is owned by the mod and hence the exorbitant landing charges. surely the first port of call would be for government to buy the damn thing then reduce landing charges thus attracting more flights. or does that just make TOO much sense??!"

  6. It seems that we have heard this tune before, I recall high pitched opposition to the cruise liner terminal and any possibility of this industry ever succeeding. Are we truly suggesting that because there have been failings in past efforts to create more business for the air terminal, that we should call it a day? This is not a short term project where we happily create somthing out of nothing and live happily ever after, but a serious investment in our future; one in which we seek to develop the industry because we believe we can and have confidence in our abiity to so.

  7. My dear Carlito when you grow up and learn to write using capital letters and puncutation then maybe these complicated issues will be easier for you to understand.

  8. To anonymous at 20:09:

    The comparison between the cruise liner terminal and the new air terminal is not only disingenuous but smacks of GSD desperation.

    The cruise liner terminal was needed precisely BECAUSE there were so many liner visits that there was already desperate DEMAND for one. Also, it did not cost tens of millions of pounds. Perhaps the amount spent on the air terminal would have been better spent on the cruise liner terminal. At least it would have been used by more passengers.

    The belief that having a new air terminal will attract more flights and so more passengers is a delusion. Everywhere demand precedes construction, albeit that construction is then designed to take into account reasonable growth expectations. Phasing would have worked for the new air terminal ... but then how would Gibraltar have got it to reach the frontier? Is this what dictated the size, rather than demand? I suggested it probably was?

    Delusions of grandeur ... again ... by whom. I wonder?

  9. No grandeur LW, simply belief in you and me and the rest of us, some of whom seem to prefer to live in denial of the fact that we are actually successful...it seems that acceptance of any success is conditional on who creates it; or are we truly suggesting otherwise? My point with regard to the cruise liner terminal was by no means suggesting a fiscal comparison or even that there wasn't already growth but rather the quite astonishing increase of visits that we have had over the years due to a great many number of reasons, not least, beatification, security and other factors that would suggest that we do get things right. Surely if we have had success with our fianance centre, our economy, tourism (you get my point I'm sure) then why on earth should some of us have such lack of faith in a project which represents what Gibraltar has become - a success. LW, you are right in questioning the cost, but somewhat short sited to suggest that we ought to phase the air terminal based on what some might argue is your delusional perception that Gibraltar is not capable of any growth in this sector. By way of another example, you might also want to question whether Europort was a success or not? it remained mostly under used during it's early years; however, had it not been for the space available, Gibraltar's finance centre would never have expanded or been in a position to grow at such as pace. It truly is a shame to witness such lack of ambition, confidence and aspiration from someone as educated as LW......although I wonder whether your furious attempts to discredit might actually be driven by motives other than reason......I have to say I am enjoying this banter! for now I remain your ghost.......a friendly one and by no means a GSD supporter, simply a believer in LLanito's..:)

  10. Plato Roto? : Thanks Anonymous 22.16 for striking our for optimism and Gibraltarian self confidence. These Blogs are too negative. Before the GSLP bacame infested with cynical lawyers it too was a proactive party with confidence in Gibraltar's future and the Gibraltarians. I have always supported the GSLP but will not crticise the GSD for sharing in our faith in our country. I see that in other blogs there is also a campaign to disparrage Charles Gomez who is another great patriot with a passion for Gibraltar. It seems to me that these blogs are effectively anti-Gibraltarian. Why??????????

  11. To Anonymous at 22.47:

    Of course we must believe in ourselves and of course we have had success in every area you mention despite some of our own present and past governments' actions.

    In your analysis you carefully avoid mentioning all the past failures of all attempts to increase air traffic to Gibraltar.

    The point of this blog is not to criticise the construction of a new air terminal. In earlier blogs the need has been recognised by me. It is the
    (a) the cost and
    (b) the fact that the size seems to have been dictated by the POLITICAL need to reach the frontier, which has increased cost and is far in excess of requirements.
    Phasing would have resolved all these issue.

    Europort was clearly a financial disaster for the developers. That Gibraltar has subsequently been able to take advantage yes, good for us. That long term something comes good does not make the decision or judgement made at the time good. in time most things come good but at what cost. How much will it have cost us before the air terminal becomes good? at least in Europort it cost the developers. It was private capital not public moneys at risk.

    I don't know where you get furious from nor can I understand what gives you any reason to doubt my motives... please enlighten me. I assure you that I believe in llanitos as much as anyone. However, if I feel something is wrong, do you deny me the right to say it, by suggesting that it makes me less llanito than you? Playing such a nationalistic game does no credit to you who otherwise deploys first class arguments ... and at the end of the day the reality is that only time will tell. And, after all i have said no more or less than the GSLP/Libs in their press release that i read this morning, after I wrote this blog. Does that make the GSLP/Libs less llanito also?

  12. As suggested by a commentator ( and having just discovered how to do it) I will comment in future in my own name which is visible in any event if you view Llanito World's profile.

  13. Robert, we will agree to disagree on this one. Let it be said that I appreciate your views, but would argue that you still miss the point. That being that we may well struggle in early days, but is this not the case with any new venture.....is an element of uncertainty not always a factor? I recently had clients over who highlighted the fact that Gibraltar has historically been hesitant to stick it's neck out - take a risk so to speak....... a hangover from colonialism or maybe insecurity given historical relationships with Spain. The air terminal is required, yes it may be larger than necessary; but for the love if god let's have the confidence to back it up and be proud of what we can aspire to and what it represents for the Rock. As for your reference to my supposed insinuation that you and the GSLP are singing from the same hymn sheet........let's just say that I would not be engaged in these mental masturbations with you if I thought so. I look forward to your next blog. Cheers and I remain the ghost....;)

  14. Hi Plato Roto:

    First there is nothing to disparage Charles Gomez in any blog published here. In fact quite the opposite there are many favourable comments about Charles.

    Second there is nothing anti-Gibraltarian in these blogs. Just opinions. I do not see what leads you to make this statement. Unbeknown to me the GSLP/Libs have made the same points in a press release published yesterday. Does that make them anti-Gibraltarian too?

  15. To anonymous at 23.52:

    At least at long last this blog is creating some debate and comment!

  16. The point is who will pick up all the broken pieces if this new airport terminal does not match reasonable annual returns from flights with the public investment made?

    An "airport terminal monument"?

  17. A pleasure and you are welcome....:) hasta la siguente.

  18. It's such a huge building that we'll never be able to fill it as a Terminal. So why not convert part of it into a new state-of-the-art theatre - now that we know that the new theatre royal project in its present location just isn't going to happen?

  19. Hi Mark:

    I made this suggestion some time back. Read the blog "Bust the Myth ... Caruan:God or Comedian".

  20. To Anonymous 00.30:
    Are you seriously suggesting that if the air terminal is not an instant successs which I agree may well be the case in the short term, that Gibraltar will suddenly break and disolve into some sort of financial crisis? Can we please be real about this for once! Take the Chyrsler Building, Canary Wharf, Scottish Parliment, The Dome, Wembly Stadium....the list is long and distinguished and all represent what one might argue are initial financial fiascos; or are they? All of the above are today integral parts of their respective economies and communities churning great returns and standing as icons that represent success!!! Again, I argue on the premise and beacuse of the fact that we have achieved so much in such a short time and based on this, I ask you; do we still lack the confidence in smacking Spain, Briatian, The World with somthing that is so much more than an air terminal? Are we truly going to allow high pitched, eratic and politically motivated opinion feck with our potential to continue to become great!!......wow.......that was actually quite good...if I may say so:)
    The Ghost

  21. My dear Gibcrier, internet blogs, much like text messages, do not require the grammatical precision that perhaps you think they do. Although I (note the use of capital I) understand perhaps your generation is not aware of these common practices.

  22. Brown Cow said

    In my view people will have differing views about how big a new air terminal should be or how much money we should spend on it.

    For me the critical question is how did Government decide to embark on the project in its current form.

    AS pointed out by a comment in an earlier blog - the Government has not done any study on what demand there is likely to be, and building a new airport was never mentioned by Government until the Cordoba agreement was entered into.

    Having made the decision to build the airport there has been no public consultation whatsoever - no application for planning permission, no public exhibition.

    How do we come to be spending so much public money, and making such substantial changes to Gibraltar's infrastructure without any proper public consultation?

    In my view the real criticism of the airport should be levelled at the decision making process, rather than the building. It is not right and it is a sad indictment on the way our politicians feel they are entitled to run public affairs. It is a sad indictment on our opposition that they fail to appreciate this point - no doubt because their style in government would be little different.

  23. It's quite sad to note that there are so many of us here who either:

    a.)have already decided that the airport will be a catastrophic failure and monumental waste of money on the basis of the commercial failure of one or two routes; or

    b.) worse still, harbour hopes that the airport will be a catastrophic failure in order that they're able to massage their own egos in saying, as vociferously as possible, 'I told you so!' as they celebrate a failure of Peter Caruana and the GSD. How pathetic.

    Surely it is in the community's interests that we ourselves are the loudest proponents of the merits of having an airport. Is it not better to shout from the rooftops how fantastic we think the project is in the hope of infusing its prospective users with our enthusiasm, rather than allow ourselves to be swallowed whole by the negativity of a few, doing all they can to see it fail so they can attack the government anew.

    We've seen it before though haven't we. The GSLP not having the political spine to have an official position on the New Constitution (the drafting and steering of which they had participated in) only to secretly encourage a 'no' vote to (coining a phrase here) 'hacerle la put*da a Caruana!'

    How ridiculous then (if not wholly unexpected) to read the unfathomable (and I hate to be so frank) stupidity of Mr Garcia, stating that Joe Holliday's visit to the Routes Forum is 'a reflection of their desperation to bring in different players in order to justify the enormous cost of the new air terminal building.' How on earth are we supposed to market the existence of the new terminal and facilities. Has he not even the remotest bit of common sense to understand what surely most of us do: that these airlines aren't going to come to you, you have to go to them! We're selling a product here people, that's what we're doing! I don't know how Mr Garcia carries on his business but, if his idea of marketing is to sit around waiting for work to fall into his lap, he won't make a very good Minister for Tourism, if a Minister for anything at all.

    It beggars belief that we should be in this situation. We are our own worst enemy and, for the sake of silly party politics, we'll shoot ourselves in the foot to make a point.


  24. I do not believe that anyone is suggesting that if the air terminal is not an instant success, Gibraltar will be in financial ruin. Just that the taxpayer (us) will not only have spent tens of millions building it but will be lumbered with a substantially increased ongoing bill for running costs.

    Don't even talke me to your examples of financial disasters. What a comparison to make. The world is full of disastrous construction projects so that justifies another mistake.

    I think Brown Cow makes excellent and valid points.

  25. Honney Bee says...

    I would also add that whilst the financial disaster examples mentioned may possibly have ended up being used for varying purposes that were not originally intended, sadly, there is only one use for an airport terminal.

    If the past failures to attract/establish new airlines is anything to go by we could well end up with a terminal that bears no relation to the amount of traffic that passes through it !

    Meanwhile... not a peep squeek on the 2 desperately needed new schools down at the west side area, promised at the last election, or the new psychiatric unit to replace the (3rd world) KGV or financing for our roads that are beginning to look like something out of the Paris-Dakar.

    I could go on - but I think you get the picture. We are a small country and we`re definatley not swimming in the green stuff to afford the luxury of extravagance !

  26. Robert, you fail to see my point yet again; that being, what the air terminal represents in its totality...yes of course it will cost tens of millions, but it will serve us for geneations to come and sets out our aspirations as a community and what we are able to achieve. To think with such short mindedness and base your argument on what it can achieve now, does not reflect Gibraltar's recent achievments of growth. I resort to assuming that your view is one in which you do not see much in the way of progress beyond what has alraedy been done.....quite depressing really - not sure that you really believe that...do you?
    I am actually getting addicted to this - frightning stuff...:)

  27. Honey Bee, it was just the Dome that ended up being used for an alternative purpose. As mentioned in prior posts, I appreciate the concern of cost, but do not agree that it will actually pan out that way and based purely on past performance, I have faith in the long term success...time will tell. With regard to a purpose built Mental Home (somthing close to my heart) I share your view, but would remind you that plans are already in motion to create one within the retired Naval Hospital. As for the schools again, I could not agree more and again refer to the fact that it is in fact being programmed within the Mid Harbour area, which I am sure you will know as the large development of local council properties for local people....as for the roads, I can only assume that you are not aware of the many infrastructure works ongoing and the fact that they will (I am sure) be made good as and when these projects are completed - much like Rock Hotel, Ocean Village (by the pharmacy), Trafalgar exchange etc etc etc.
    I am sure of a response from Honey Bee...and look forwrad to it....me voy que mi muje me mata..:)

  28. Brown Cow says

    In response to Anonymous 17.29. There are lots of potential commercial/tourism/development arguments to support the airport. THe problem is that there is absolutely no evidence that the Government actually considered any of them prior to committing itself to and announcing the building of a new airport.

    What is clear is that before the Cordoba agreement there was no proposal to build an airport. Then we were presented with the Cordoba agreement that actually OBLIGES us to build an airport.

    It seems to me unusual to justify the building of an airport on commercial/development/tourism grounds when the fact of the matter is we are obliged to build it as part of a political agreement with foreign sovereign powers.

    If you ask me it is a case of policy after the fact - which is rather a habit of the current administration.

  29. I tend to agree with Honney Bee's view. There are many areas that could and arguably should have been given due attention before embarking on the new airport project. Our current airport no doubt has its faults; perhaps a more prudent option would have been to explore how these shortcomings could be improved upon, whilst also devoting public finances to other areas requiring attention. A phased development along the lines of what you suggested LW would have possibly been a good way of proceeding.

    Brown Cow's comments, sadly, could also be extended to other projects and buildings that have sprung up in recent times. Decisions of this nature would benefit from increased transparency and due consideration in order to avoid disasters like the Theatre Royal project.

    Having said that, alea jacta est (seeing as Latin is in vogue on this blog!). Regardless of public opinion and whether the current Government remains in office for the next term, the airport project will be completed. Therefore, we can only hope that the new airport terminal will be a success in the long term.

  30. Fred says:

    Hi Robert,

    One of the posters has rightly referred to the airstip itself.

    I understand that it has to be re-surfaced within the next 3-years, it belongs to the MoD and the UK is heading for Defence cuts. I hope that these factors have been taken into consideration.

    I personally think that investments in communications links like the airport and port are a good idea. My main objection is that developments do not appear to be part of a cohesive strategic plan, that would have included an appreciation of social priorities - schools, hospitals, housing.

  31. Anonymous 17:29

    I think that it is you and not LW/RV that is missing the point.

    There is NO DEMAND today for such an extravagant Airport. Malaga Airport has better connections to the Coast (no frontier in between) the Cadiz market is also lost to Jerez Airport. As a tourist product we are miles behind the favored Spanish destinations and realistically we have to accept that we will never be able to compete with say: Mallorca, Benidorm etc.. Therefore,the makeup of the catchment is such that it is not likely that there will be a cataclysmic surge in the future either. Ask James Gaggerro why after so many years in the business he pulled out.

    The upshot is that the funds could be best put to use in many other meritorious community projects as suggested by bloggers here and an extension to the current Airport would have served our needs today and for a few generations.

  32. Cruz, I have reiterated my point on a number of occasions now, so I will refer you to all of the above points made by me. No one is suggesting that we begin to compare our shiny new terminal to Malaga or any other large terminal. I think Our only line of consensus here is that time will tell......so on that lighter note, I say good night people, it's been emotional...;) Robert I look forward to you next blog.

  33. Final fart. We are now stuck with this new airport terminal. Whether we think it is a good or bad public investment.

    The electorate will have to decide whether they trust this or any other future government to make such investments in the manner they have and vote on past record and future risks of similar conduct - Brown Cow is right.

  34. A non emouse

    Ghost - for an estate agent you are very eloquent. Will we see you in the next GSD line up you think? ;)

  35. Honney Bees says...

    Hi Ghost

    I have to confess to being cynical when it comes to elected politicians and their "promises,promises" especially of the pre-electoral variety. A look at the GSD`s last manifesto commitments for this term, in my view confirms that. There`s no doubting that we`ve seen improvements and investment to gib over the years. But I am still of the opinion that there is much still to do and priorities are not what they should be.

    I would also have been interested to see any feasability studies published on what we should be aiming for in relation to the new terminal taking into account present and expected future traffic and what we are up against in terms of our competitors. Against that backdrop confidence in the present plans would surely be more positive - don`t you agree ?

    In the long term the the terminal may well bear fruit. But how long is long ? It may well be the case, but a more prudent approach, in my humble view would have been to have a phased approach to the terminals expansion which would also have allowed some cash in the kitty for other badly needed projects which are just as deserving.

  36. Honey Bees, thank you for your comment! I do not disagree with your comments...entirley, and I am pleased that you recognise that this project may well be a success. For me it is simply a measure of what we as apeople are capable of achieving and we should rise to the challenge and support somthing which I have already stated as being much more than just a terminal. I can only speak for myself with regards to my opinion on electoral promises, and although it is clear that not all have been completed, most are at the very least in motion - we could argue on this until the brown cows come home I am sure, but would you not agree that in the main, the achievements made to date have placed Gibraltar on a level that could never have been imagined just 10 years ago. There is no question that one may bore with same old same old, however, given the lack of constructive opposition, I take the view (however much I may not like it) that if it ain't broken - don't fix it! I mean come on people, lets be real here; he may be arrogant, self centred and rude at the best of times (I'm gonna be ostracized from the community now I know it) - but can we really say that our current status on most aspects of life are not massively improved? The question here is... do we really have constructive opposition, one which truly imposes real checks and balances with the best intentions of the community at heart and which is not driven by chip on shoulder or frustration.......?
    No vea lo que me espera a mi despues de esto..:)

  37. Fred says:


    I'm with Honney Bee on the question of being prudent. I also agree with you that as a people we should aspire to greater and better things, but with out prudence and wisdom this quickly turns to folly and arrogance.

    It is the arrogance that you identify in the CM that has so many people tired and worried, particularly because it masquerades as humility under veneers of faith.

    Folk are also worried about the absence of a true social program and the fact that so many projects had the whiff of maladministration at best and outright nepotism verging on corruption at best.

    As I have said before, I personally think that infrastructure projects are necessary, but I want to see slick and prudent strategic planning.

    As an aside: Ghost, you are right to say that the opposition is wholly ineffective. Mr Costa is like a little bleating goat. And, what I want to hear from Mr Licudi is not how he wants more roads, but his plan for how he is going to get us away from cars. I would also welcome statments in plane English and not long-winded pseudo-legalise.

  38. Honney Bee says...

    Hi Ghost

    Your faith in the unkown is admirable but I`m afraid that I don`t share it. It`s not a question of doubting what we are capable of achieving ( as a people), of that I have no doubt,but there are very obvious hurdles that need to be overcome to ensure success at the airport, with no indication as to how they will be resolved. Given the sum involved to build the terminal I would most certainly have more confidence if I knew that the appropriate studies had been conducted beforehand and decisions made on hard concrete evidence and advice and not on a wing and a prayer - which appears to be the case.

    As to massive improvements in our current status - this cannot solely be measured in terms of a vibrant economy or a flash new airport terminal. The situation facing minority groups in Gibraltar is nothing to be proud of and is something that I would expect to be reading in the interneational press (as we have ) but happening elsewhere.

  39. Fred- I agree with your comment regarding pseudo-legalese language. I think that Parliament and the political scene generally would benefit from having people from non-legal backgrounds expressing their views.

  40. Agree, but not much chance of that happening when, come next years's general election, all three party leaders will be lawyers: Picardo, Caruana and Azopardi with a lawyer behind each of the three leaders (Licudi, Feetham and Cruz respectively) waiting for an opportunity to snatch the crown. Gibraltar has, in the words of Dom Searle of the Chronic, become well and truly a "barristocracy".

  41. What is "plane" English, Fred?

  42. Well spotted Mark!A competition as to who gets his snout in the trough first? Indeed who gets to own the trough? With pompous legalese to dull us all into a stupour.

  43. Barristocracy? Next stage Kleptocracy?