Monumental flop as Iberia ends flying to Gibraltar:
|Gibraltar Govt could pull out of pouring millions into new terminal
Iberia has confirmed that they are withdrawing from the Madrid-Gibraltar route, as first published by PANORAMA yesterday.
Speaking from Madrid, a spokesman told us that there was not enough demand on the route and that is why the service was being suspended.
As we also revealed yesterday, the last flight would be next Sunday.
The use of the word 'suspended' is always used on the grounds that there could be a hypothetical return some time.
But there is no hope in the horizon that Iberia plans to return to Gibraltar in the foreseeable future.
Iberia said that the flights are 'suspended' until it has been decided it will be commercially viable - but there is not enough demand.
The Madrid route has been a monumental flop, first with GB Airways (flying as British Airways) pulling out after a few months and now Iberia pulling out completely after having downgraded their service from the initial daily to twice-weekly.
It could be argued that under the terms of the Cordoba agreement, the Gibraltar Government is lumbered with having to build a new air terminal at nearly ?50 million.
However, the Gibraltar Government could extricate itself from having to spend such a vast sum of money on a new terminal - what for?
This is because much of what the terminal was for, such as the so-called Schengen clearance - does no longer arise as there are no flights from Spain. A new situation has thus been created.
Further the notion was that there would be flights from other Spanish destinations as well as Madrid, but this has not materialised. If there is no demand from Madrid, the prospect from other Spanish destinations is nil.
As the airport deal says, its aim was to enable the enhanced use of the airport to benefit the social and economic development of Gibraltar and the Campo.
But it is being stressed in political circles that the only real beneficiaries from the whole Cordoba deal are in Spain.
This raises questions about the usefulness for Gibraltar of the tripartite process, as it has been built on premature, flimsy grounds.
The airport is not attracting more international flights, and the frontier is subject to the whims of those running it.
The Spaniards have made material gains, such as the millions from the updated pensions, and Gibraltar and Britain are just paying out more and more, now with the building of the new terminal,a capital outlay that will also end in Spanish pockets as the tender has been awarded to a Spanish company.
The failure of the whole project was epitomized by the virtually empty bus plying to and from La Linea. That, as well as the infrastructure linked to its operation, has been costing a fortune - with Gibraltar paying. And the often more than half-empty flights, mainly passengers for the Campo's benefit and not for Gibraltar's benefit.
The disruption on our side of the frontier area - with more to come - is there for all to see. This costs time and money to official departments, including the over-stretched RGP.
People are asking what else will start to end prematurely, if more deals are struck in future meetings of the tripartite talks. Support for more deals must currently be at a low ebb, given the impact of the Madrid flying fiasco.
When PANORAMA broke the news yesterday, there were people looking at our headline and saying: This cannot be.
There was a strong element of disbelief, but there it is, confirmed by Iberia if confirmation were needed.