(Agencies) Following the decision by Al Andalus airline to cancel its Gibraltar-Barcelona flights as from yesterday, the Rock’s Ministry for Transport has responded to “wholly inaccurate and unacceptable” remarks by Andalus Airlines attributing the cancellation of the Barcelona service and reduction of Madrid flights to a lack of marketing support promised by the Gibraltar Government, according to a report by The Gibraltar Chronicle.>
Referring to a GBC interview by Carlos Pereira, Operations Manager of Andalus Airlines earlier this week, a Transport Ministry spokesman said the comments were “completely incompatible and inconsistent with the airline’s recent public statements and exchanges between the Government and other senior executives of the airline.”
The Transport spokesman said: “The statement by Mr Pereira suggests either that he does not know what else is going on in his company, or is an attempt to place pressure on the Minister for Transport just three days before a scheduled meeting between them. Both are unacceptable to the Government.
“The use which any commercial operator makes of Gibraltar airport is entirely a commercial matter for that operator. The Government’s decision to build a new air terminal in no way depends on the unilateral decisions made by individual commercial operators at this point in time. It represents an investment for Gibraltar’s growing needs during the next fifty or more years.
“The Government has requested the presence of Fernando Guerrero, CEO of Andalus to explain the recent behaviour of Andalus in relation to its services to and from Gibraltar and their intentions for the future.”
Meanwhile the Mayor of La Linea Juan Carlos Juarez has regretted the lack of support and incentives for Andalus, describing it as the only company that has made a real investment after the Cordoba Agreement was signed.
Sr Juarez said the airline cannot operate without strong initial financial support and institutional backing from both the Spanish and Gibraltar Governments.
The Mayor also argues that the Junta de Andalucia should have provided some sponsorship to ensure the airline’s success as other regional governments in Spain do with other air carriers, for example Valencia in respect of Malaga-Melilla flights.
“There has to be economic support otherwise it is very easy to sign agreements for joint use of the airport, but without a real budget to meet costs, it will be impossible to sustain,” he declared.
He said Andalus may have fallen foul of gesture politics and that the new terminal will end up operating flights with UK only.
“I hope I am wrong,” he declared.
Noting the length of time it has taken for there to be an agreement for joint use of the airport, Sr Juarez laments that at the moment of truth, when an airline has come along to make it a reality, it has been left to its own devices from the outset and faced serious difficulties to obtain commercial viability.
The Mayor says the economic crisis affecting airlines should not be an excuse and fears that after Iberia and GB Airways, “could be the third one to fall unless someone does something about it.”