In a report by Vox, a Gibraltar publication (and as yet unconfirmed by any other media), the spectre of an airport on the outskirts of Jimena raises its head once more. According to the article, titled ‘Junta’s Secret Plan Will Kill Gib’s New Airport’, the Junta de Andalucía is negotiating to buy land ‘in the wide valley bottom, to the south of the historic white town’. You can read the whole article below>
JUNTA’S SECRET PLANS WILL ‘KILL’ GIB’s NEW AIRPORT
Green light for international Jimena project
Plans for a new international airport near Jimena – which will undermine the economic viability of Gibraltar’s £100 million white elephant airport project – are to go ahead…backed by the Junta del Andalusia. The Junta has already begun negotiations to acquire land in the wide valley bottom, to the south of the historic white town – ironically at the same time that it has backed the establishment of the Andalus Airline.
The plans envisage not only an international airport capable of handling the world’s newest fleets of 500-seater mega-jets, but will also offer an “industrial” park to establish light industries and research laboratories, a source close to the secret negotiations told VOX this week.
They echo a similar project mooted several years ago by Irish entrepreneur Robert Noonan who bought up some of the land in the Jimena valley, but shelved the project when he was persuaded by the Caruana regime to establish a new low-cost airline Fly Gibraltar which would have been based in Gibraltar.
The airline spectacularly failed to get off the ground and in the acrimonious aftermath other Noonan projects were put in jeopardy and some of the participants blamed Caruana and the then Tourism Minister Joe Holliday for the failure.
Noonan declined to comment this week.
Holliday’s Optimism Criticised
In fact, Holliday’s over-optimism has also been criticised as partly responsible for the other recent airline failure – the withdrawal of Spain’s flagship carrier Iberian Airlines from the Gibraltar route.
The Government’s deal with Iberia is thought to have been partly responsible for the Gaggero family’s decision to sell GB Airways to EasyJet. While the later Iberian withdrawal itself was blamed on a lack of demand, the new Andalus airline – whose maiden flight last week was heralded as an important breakthrough by both Holliday as Industry Minister and Ernest Britto, the Tourism portfolio replacement – appears to be experiencing similar problems. It cancelled on flight for lack of support and later reduced its planned capacity from a 50-seat aircraft to a smaller, 13-seater plane.
Meanwhile, as work continues on the infrastructure of roads that will serve the new controversial terminals building at Gibraltar airport, airline industry sources have warned that the Government’s willingness to allow developments of buildings with more than eight storeys in such proximity to the runways as Greg Butcher’s Ocean Village complex and Taylor Woodrow’s Trade Winds development at Marina Bay, rule out its use by the big jet now being introduced by the major airlines.
“Even before it is built Gibraltar’s new £100-million airport project is already an anachronism,” VOX was told.
Questions Over Future Usage
Though the Junta-backed Andalus airline announced on Wednesday that its “teething troubles” were over and that a 50-seater aircraft would be placed in regular service …a question mark still hovers over the demand.
And an even bigger question mark hangs over its future – and the future of any other airline which may consider serving Gibraltar – when the Jimena airport takes shape…possibly as soon as 2012.