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Julian Bray provides: Opinion, comment, forward thinking speculation on Travel, Cruise & Aviation: conflict zones, terrorist impact, drone (UAV) issues, safety (black boxes, emergencies), airline operations, aviation finance, political implications, and all forms of incident risk. Worked at board level with several airline and aviation groups, including Alitalia, British Island Airways, British Airways, Galileo , British Aerospace, Skyways, former CEO City firm Leadenhall Assoc. Founder CNS City News Service. Director NTN Television News (joint co. with ITV Wales TWW) Debretts People 2017 and in launch edition of PRWeek Black Book.

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Sunday, 4 August 2013

When the Apes leave Gibraltar.... Why the reef really is being constructed...




Julian Bray writes: The news that the Spanish Government has decided to 'get tough' on the whole question of the sovereign ownership of Gibraltar is nothing new to readers of this news blog.  Shades of the Falklands War, and an impending Spanish election campaign, have placed Gibraltar in the spotlight as a convenient diversion, from mounting political problems, corruption investigations, and a 50% unemployment rate on the Spanish mainland.  

The construction of a fisheries protection reef, was in reality only commissioned as a result of regular incursions by large Spanish inshore fishing boats, and smaller 'private' craft regularly testing 'the Gib maritine defences' by frustrating the safe arrival and departure of international cruise ships, many American owned.  Protecting fisheries are in fact a secondary consideration but don't tell anyone, we told you!

Millions of hours of cameraphone holiday footage contains video of the well drilled fully armed 'British Police' Gib marine defence sqaud equipped with high speed zodiacs, who see off all who pose any kind of threat to those lawfully within Gibraltarian waters. Woe betide any craft who try and impede the cruise ships! During my onboard lecture tours with all the major cruise lines, I have landed at Gibratar countless times, to witness all
 kinds of maritime operations.

Gibraltar was at one time a mandatory first port of call, for duty free shopping, but not so important these days, as the cruise lines on their new generation of floating self-contained destination mega ships, developed their onboard shopping malls and actually now undercut Gibraltar mainland retail prices.  

Sinking ship in Gibraltar docks, the high density residential blocks to the left are built on reclaimed land adjacent to Gibraltar (click on picture to enlarge).

It was clear that Gibraltar was in fact becoming a liability as shore excursions needing to cross the border from Gibraltar into Spain, were increasingly unreliable due to 'administrative' delays and in terms of ensuring all coaches, private hire buses and taxis were back alongside for a 6pm or earlier departure. It is also a problem where some ships wee replenishing supplies from Gibraltar but increasingly Vigo (Northern Spain) and Lisbon (Portugal) have  taken over this role.

The shortsightedness of the Spanish Authorities is quite astonishing as they have overlooked that on any one day some 7,000 international cruise ship passengers will board Spanish owned coaches and head for the Spanish mainland for day trips. Where they will spend substantial funds at various tourist centres including Santiago de Compostela, the location of the recent railcrash.   

As the British Government has reserved the right to retaliate against Spanish owned enterprises, we could well see the bizarre situation developing whereby Spanish owned British Airways flights are surcharged or denied landing at British Airports albeit that the UK main airports are these days Spanish owned. In any event frustrating dividend payments to their Spanish masters, could well be on the cards, and cause the Spaniards even greater economic problems - and very quickly.    

This is the official UK reaction to the current impasse:

Following comments reported today, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London "has reasserted its ties" with Gibraltar.

The Foreign Office has also called for a political answer to the current situation, looking to continue the UK’s strong relationship with Spain.
A Foreign Office spokesman said:
The Prime Minister has made clear that the UK government will meet its constitutional commitments to the people of Gibraltar and will not compromise on sovereignty. Our differences with Spain on Gibraltar will be resolved by political means through our relationship as EU partners, not through disproportionate measures such as the border delays we have seen over the past week. We have many common interests with Spain and wish to continue to have a strong relationship at every level with the Government of Spain.
The Cordoba Agreement was an example of our relationship with Spain working effectively, with the Agreement benefiting many in the Campo area of Spain. We are continuing to abide by our obligations under the Agreement and we look to the Government in Spain to do likewise. In the meantime, we will be seeking an explanation from Spain following reports that the Spanish government might target Gibraltar with further measures.

 

On Friday 2 August the Spanish Ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Office in relation to delays at the Gibraltar border

This is the post from last October :-     

Julian Bray writes: Gibraltar could soon be dumped as a regular Port of Call by cruise ships in coming seasons, senior industy sources have indicated. As reflected in a parliamentary debate on Gibraltar in the House of Commons, London, earlier today (Wednesday 15th October); which reported the recently elected Spanish Government is no longer co-operating in the trilateral talks on maintaining cordial relations between Gibraltar and Spain.
It also comes on a day when the Home Secretary Theresa May MP announced the UK is withdrawing from all EC pre Lisbon Police and Criminal Justice matters, reserving the right to opt back in to single EC measures as appropriate.
As a result a growing number of cruise lines are considering dropping Gibraltar and no longer consider it as an important port of call, following a renewal of repetitive border delays between the Rock and Spain.
Delays of up to five hours at a time are being experienced as the local Guardia Civil [GC] (The Guardia Civil is in essence the Spanish gendarme. It is a police force that has both military, maritime and civilian functions plus a foreign peace-keeping role. It enjoys military status and is the equivalent of a federal paramilitary police), GC units are closing the border for several hours at a time, on the pretext of conducting searches for smuggled goods from Gib into Spain and the reverse. In addition they are conducting patrols allegedly within British territorial waters, which has frequently involved the armed intervention of the Royal Navy.
Clearly cruise line guests making day trips to Spain, and on organised coach excursions are not arriving back in time due to the border delays, and in most cases the cruise ship has to vacant its berth, leaving passengers stranded. The delays either require the offloading of the missing passengers luggage, or at their own expense passengers to travel by rail or air to the next port of call.
Cruise lines have also noted that by excluding Gibraltar they can extend time at provisioning ports such as Lisbon, Vigo and Barcelona, and also preserve the high level of on-board spend where duty free tobaccos, alcohol and shopping are now an important part of the profitability of any cruise. In particular Vigo in Gallicia, Northern Spain has made a substantial investment in a new cruise terminal, ship provisioning and port side visitor attractions,
The border delays have also affected the rapid transit of seriously ill passengers to Spanish hospitals. In some cases it is claimed, 'private ambulances' (hearses) have also been refused entry to Spain, and the body has had to be repatriated 'Medevac' by air from Gibraltar airport.
Other problems are also caused by Spanish hospitals and medical clinics refusing to accept the European Health Card, and demanding payment in full from British Citizens before they will offer treatment or supply medications. They say the Central Governemen,t of Spain isn't refunding the costs involved although the funds are being paid by the UK.
 
This roads sign greets travellers in Gibraltar
as they embark from cruise ships
 
JULIAN BRAY, Media, Aviation, & Travel Expert. Broadcaster & Journalist NUJ EQUITY UK Tel: 01733 345581 (isdn link on application)
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