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Our airport, landing strip and our air services

OUR AIRPORT, LANDING STRIP AND  OUR  AIR SERVICES.

Is there something wrong with our airport? You tell me. Our airport was given to us by The EU and UK. The landing strip is approximately 600 metres long, now accepted as an international airport (TRPG), and is easily the one most import aspect of our sustainable development.

But a bad workman blames his tools . When we were given the Airport my understanding is that we were given specific instructions for its use and we are now suffering  a measure of economic loss for not having  continued to follow these instructions. I would imagine that the EU/UK governments arrived at these instructions after considerable research.

1. Use twin otter aircraft (best for landing strip)

John Osborne airport

John Osborne airport

2. Use WINAIR (largest fleet of twin otters in the region with years of experience flying them into short landing strips,and their maintenance and fleet only 40 flying minutes away.)

3. Have a Public Service Obligation agreement with WINAIR. (for the protection of the traveling public.)

It would appear that the UK civil servant who researched our air transportation needs at that time did a thorough job.  We in Montserrat were very skeptical , emotional, and totally  uninformed . We wanted LIAT.

WINAIR services began in July, 2005.  For three years, in spite of cancellations, delayed flights , delayed baggage and bitter complaints, WINAIR ,using their own  and a charter company’s twin otters, managed an  incident free air  service to Montserrat.   But we were still dissatisfied, we wanted  the very best possible of  everything  including service. Consequently  WINAIR was treated with little respect by the then government and also by the Montserrat Tourist Board, both of whom  appear to have had little knowledge of the airline industry.

The cry for “our own airline” was initiated in one group, and like ‘crucify him’ the lower echelons of the society took it up. There were only a few knowledgeable dissenting voices.

It was amazing that we, at the time a virtual welfare state of Britain, would presume to feel entitled to our own airline, regardless of our population and earning power. It would be revealing to learn where this refrain was first started.

Enroute to this position  and as soon as we were able to dispense with WINAIR’s services,  in June, 2008 we went into a disastrous arrangement with LIAT/Carib Aviation.  I will mention here that a member of my staff  bet me that it would last no longer than 6 months.

The Montserrat Reporter  June 20, 2008,

Headline  “New airlink service between Antigua and Montserrat” – “Liat/Carib two year Air service agreement”.

On July 11, 2008   “Liat 1974 Ltd temporarily suspended its commercial arrangements with Carib Aviation.” (Who could still feel that Liat should be involved in our air access?).  My understanding is that when approached for help “they were dismissive”. (Liat)

Where does the Montserrat Government store it’s historical data? We have already been subjected to a disastrous arrangement with Liat when we lost to them our very own twin otter in the days of Montserrat Aviation Services Ltd.   Government must have these records.

Friday July 25, 2008.  Headlines “Montserrat air link service new contract falls short.”(Service started July 1, 2008.)

Friday,  September 12, 2008. Headlines, “Air link woes and uncertainty rule as Carib Aviation folds its wings.”

Below this headline is a photograph of a WINAIR twin otter and  headline “Montserrat goes full circle with WINAIR”. (this is fact, a truth that is stranger than fiction.  We all lived through it).

One continues to wonder which government technicians advised on this arrangement. Montserrat has not yet recovered from the folly of this most unwise decision. Had we been adult in our outlook and patient with WINAIR,  Montserrat would have enjoyed years of the airline exposure and the easy accessibility to Montserrat  which  WINAIR would have brought, and can still bring to  us.

The then Government was in an unenviable position. WINAIR had been relieved of their duties in favour of the Liat/Carib fiasco after having provided the service for three years WITHOUT SUBSIDY.   It is interesting to note that at the end of WINAIR’s contract in June 2008 WINAIR was the only airline who responded to the tender document . (Some in high places were saying, “we have options”, which indicates the total lack of correct information available , then and now, which would assist our governments in making informed decisions.)

The Montserrat Reporter of September 12, 2008  quotes a Government minister “we will be very careful this time round to make sure whoever is chosen to provide the service into Montserrat will have interline agreements with other established carriers”.  (To date we are still far away from this, now 5 years later and this shortcoming is proving detrimental to our economy).

The statement was very interesting, as WINAIR, even at that time 2008, was in possession of these requirements.  Again no government technician was able to provide the information which would have assisted our government in making informed decisions. WINAIR agreed to return but only WITH SUBSIDY and hence the commencement of subsidy on the route.

WINAIR’s service came to an end in January, 2011. They had their own domestic challenges and were faced with a pending situation in Montserrat where they would , even with subsidy  have been obliged to compete with  a subsidized ferry  and another air carrier with whom they shared the route for a  short period; and they had  no written agreement with the Montserrat Government at that time. They had returned to take us out of a dilemma and almost panic in certain circles as they had virtually closed their inventory of airline seats into Montserrat.

The Montserrat Reporter, November 26, 2010 “WINAIR dumps Montserrat end of December”.

Both airlines presently providing a service to Montserrat are doing the best they can, but THIS IS NOT ENOUGH.  We all know this. They cannot help our development.  They were obviously the only option for the very short term. (Did our  access coordinators see this as a  long term or very short term solution?)

We must have an airline with GDS connections. This is essential. The island is suffering as neither of our airlines can be found in any detail in a Global Distribution Services. We need the exposure that such an airline will afford us. Even if it operates only a few days a week along with one or more of our existing services.

It is surprising that our access coordinators and our tourist board failed to appraise our Government  of this shortcoming in our air services. It is small wonder that only a very few people who live outside of Montserrat know how to get here.

A Virgin Atlantic executive in Barbados had to email me to ask for instructions on getting here from Antigua.  Many of us seem to have a misconception that one of our air services was handled by Virgin Atlantic in Antigua. This is untrue/incorrect as Virgin do not even handle themselves in Antigua but have a handling agent called Dispatch Services, who also handle Delta Airlines. Virgin Atlantic was previously handled in Antigua by ASA.

Unfortunately, since WINAIR discontinued their service, Montserrat has not shown up in any airline or travel agents reservation computer .Hence the need to tell even an airline employee how to get here. Call an international  airline and  tell them you want to get to Montserrat  from London, New York or anywhere, make a note of the replies you receive. On the other hand say you want to get to  Saba, St. Barts or even Barra (most dangerous airport in the world  in the Outer Hebrides). In a minute or less you will have a route and timings and fares for the latter three, but they will probably tell you that no airline flies to Montserrat any more, or worse that there seems to be no airport there. How can this help our tourist industry and indeed our development if so few know how to get here?

By the way John A Osborne/Geralds airport in not listed in the ten most dangerous airports in the world.  But Barra, most dangerous, has several BA services daily, (except Sundays)  twin otters, Saba (shortest landing strip in the world at 400 metres and second most dangerous, has four WINAIR twin otters daily.)  St Barts, third most dangerous 651 metres but very dangerous approach. Last winter they enjoyed 23 WINAIR twin otter flights per day.  WINAIR is in a GDS.

Our airport at 600 metres is under-utilized, it can accommodate 3+ twin otters per hour.

Call our airport and check.  During opening hours I reckon we could have 500+ passengers arrive in a day.  How many are we having? Our airport is easily the one most important aspect of our sustainable development.

Two of our very close Caribbean neighbours have more dangerous airports than we have, and look at their tourism, but the main airline providing their service is in a GDS, so any international  airline and any travel agent virtually anywhere in the world can tell you in seconds how to fly to Saba or St Barts.  But not to Montserrat.

We all wanted  larger and safer airports,  but our neighbours are doing so much better with theirs  than we are with ours.  Montserrat is now very little known to the airline world.   Do your own research on the most dangerous airports in the world and see their frightening approaches and  runways with no room for expansion. They are getting on with their responsibilities without complaint.

We can improve our economy with more efficient use of our airport.  It is time to take this issue seriously and either use an established functioning airline which encompasses the specifications for the use of John A Osborne airport and has the overall requirements to improve our economy and also give a measure of satisfaction to the Montserrat traveling public and  scores of potential visitors; i.e  GDS capability, connections with international carriers which could in some instances save us every cent of Antigua’s crippling taxes, (EC$300 + on an adult fare Montserrat London return.) or  have our existing air services improve by acquiring these capabilities. (And it is doubtful if a government can  “help” an “airline” with no connections to any operating airline to get into a GDS.)

My understanding is that for a twin otter operation to be viable it must carry minimum 30,000 passengers per year and this was from someone currently involved in a company in the region who operates twin otters commercially. Maintenance after every 50 hours of flying with trained certified engineers. (ECCAA requirements).

I wonder about the reason for the Noakes recent consultancy on access to totally refrain from any mention whatsoever of WINAIR.  It is difficult to imagine that our present Government did not make this so important and historical information on access to Montserrat available to him.  If so, this is not only curious but deplorable.

Occasionally a government’s “hands are tied.” Unfortunately this happens in situations where there are “mafia” type elements usually coming from individuals who are employed in decision making areas of an international government with whom one must negotiate. Sadly, areas of the world receiving certain types of aid have their economies and development stifled by this type of horror.

But communities know how to silently and patiently deal with this. Finally getting a twin otter and giving it to someone who has no GDS connections or agreements with international  airlines will compound the issue and leave us in the doldrums for many many years to come.

Also without GDS connections for our air services the tourism budget will continue to bring us very little in the form of  the  tangible returns that Montserrat  urgently needs.

The air services we now have, on their own are helping us to only “mark time”. We must move forward by using the services (additional or otherwise) of a more established airline. Our Government must take urgent steps to correct this deterrent to our growth.

Access, both air and sea, to Montserrat with possibly  only 3,000 inhabitants with earning power, would be considered by normal thinking people as part of our infrastructure. Why do the UK not tell us to stop the “want our own this and that.” These services are essential for our development and we must be assisted in paying for them, at least for the near future.

Even communist governments make a mess of managing anything they own. Montserrat has already clearly proved that this is the area of our greatest incompetence. It is really time for us to take a stand on this constant trial and error, which seems to be simply protecting the continued employment of some of DFID’s personnel. One consultant when told that certain decisions were unlikely to work happily replied “well if it doesn’t we will try something else”.

We need to use the services of established air and sea operators with whom we can negotiate arrangements for two years at a time so that we may get good rates and stop our “poverty stricken” uncertain arrangements, for very short terms.

And remember, should we want “our own” ferry, that the ferries we had from after the closure of W.H. Bramble airport in 1997  to just before the opening of our airport in 2005 recorded only 11% occupancy. Where are our records to help us make informed decisions? Also one of these beautiful ferries Opal Express and sister ship, was rotting away in Perry Bay in Antigua. On asking, a solicitor told me that the ship was The Montserrat ferry that had been seized for debts to its owners. So, we must be careful here. These two ferries were so comfortable that someone told me that travelling on them was for her “like going on a cruise.”

Will we get “our own” ferry and still have to subsidize it? I remember once while working in Plymouth an American student of AUC telling me that “logic does not apply in Montserrat”.

But as the economist very happily told me I suppose if “our own ferry doesn’t “fit the bill” we will simply try something else. In addition, all to the account of the Government and people of Montserrat.

Our SDP 2008 -2010 “The SDP recognizes that Montserrat’s economy is demand deficient and without effective and efficient access by air and sea will remain in the doldrums.” Do our Government and their technicians not read these reports?  If no one knows how to get here by air, how can our economy be anything but demand deficient and getting progressively in the doldrums?  A learned black man once wrote, if you want to hide something from a black man put it in writing.   But that, I imagine would have been decades ago.

So many economists and yet SO MUCH HOPE (political and otherwise) VERSUS ECONOMIC REALITY.!!!

GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM: An unbiased booking engine through which airlines and travel agents can access the schedules and fares of over 850 airlines, and a raft of travel services.

The main Global Distribution Networks (GDS) are:

Amadeus with 900+ airlines and travel agents worldwide
Galileo
Sabre
Worldspan.

Please let us have some discussion on this. Perhaps I should have sent it out some time ago.

Gloria.

 

 

 

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

OUR AIRPORT, LANDING STRIP AND  OUR  AIR SERVICES.

Is there something wrong with our airport? You tell me. Our airport was given to us by The EU and UK. The landing strip is approximately 600 metres long, now accepted as an international airport (TRPG), and is easily the one most import aspect of our sustainable development.

But a bad workman blames his tools . When we were given the Airport my understanding is that we were given specific instructions for its use and we are now suffering  a measure of economic loss for not having  continued to follow these instructions. I would imagine that the EU/UK governments arrived at these instructions after considerable research.

Insert Ads Here

1. Use twin otter aircraft (best for landing strip)

John Osborne airport

John Osborne airport

2. Use WINAIR (largest fleet of twin otters in the region with years of experience flying them into short landing strips,and their maintenance and fleet only 40 flying minutes away.)

3. Have a Public Service Obligation agreement with WINAIR. (for the protection of the traveling public.)

It would appear that the UK civil servant who researched our air transportation needs at that time did a thorough job.  We in Montserrat were very skeptical , emotional, and totally  uninformed . We wanted LIAT.

WINAIR services began in July, 2005.  For three years, in spite of cancellations, delayed flights , delayed baggage and bitter complaints, WINAIR ,using their own  and a charter company’s twin otters, managed an  incident free air  service to Montserrat.   But we were still dissatisfied, we wanted  the very best possible of  everything  including service. Consequently  WINAIR was treated with little respect by the then government and also by the Montserrat Tourist Board, both of whom  appear to have had little knowledge of the airline industry.

The cry for “our own airline” was initiated in one group, and like ‘crucify him’ the lower echelons of the society took it up. There were only a few knowledgeable dissenting voices.

It was amazing that we, at the time a virtual welfare state of Britain, would presume to feel entitled to our own airline, regardless of our population and earning power. It would be revealing to learn where this refrain was first started.

Enroute to this position  and as soon as we were able to dispense with WINAIR’s services,  in June, 2008 we went into a disastrous arrangement with LIAT/Carib Aviation.  I will mention here that a member of my staff  bet me that it would last no longer than 6 months.

The Montserrat Reporter  June 20, 2008,

Headline  “New airlink service between Antigua and Montserrat” – “Liat/Carib two year Air service agreement”.

On July 11, 2008   “Liat 1974 Ltd temporarily suspended its commercial arrangements with Carib Aviation.” (Who could still feel that Liat should be involved in our air access?).  My understanding is that when approached for help “they were dismissive”. (Liat)

Where does the Montserrat Government store it’s historical data? We have already been subjected to a disastrous arrangement with Liat when we lost to them our very own twin otter in the days of Montserrat Aviation Services Ltd.   Government must have these records.

Friday July 25, 2008.  Headlines “Montserrat air link service new contract falls short.”(Service started July 1, 2008.)

Friday,  September 12, 2008. Headlines, “Air link woes and uncertainty rule as Carib Aviation folds its wings.”

Below this headline is a photograph of a WINAIR twin otter and  headline “Montserrat goes full circle with WINAIR”. (this is fact, a truth that is stranger than fiction.  We all lived through it).

One continues to wonder which government technicians advised on this arrangement. Montserrat has not yet recovered from the folly of this most unwise decision. Had we been adult in our outlook and patient with WINAIR,  Montserrat would have enjoyed years of the airline exposure and the easy accessibility to Montserrat  which  WINAIR would have brought, and can still bring to  us.

The then Government was in an unenviable position. WINAIR had been relieved of their duties in favour of the Liat/Carib fiasco after having provided the service for three years WITHOUT SUBSIDY.   It is interesting to note that at the end of WINAIR’s contract in June 2008 WINAIR was the only airline who responded to the tender document . (Some in high places were saying, “we have options”, which indicates the total lack of correct information available , then and now, which would assist our governments in making informed decisions.)

The Montserrat Reporter of September 12, 2008  quotes a Government minister “we will be very careful this time round to make sure whoever is chosen to provide the service into Montserrat will have interline agreements with other established carriers”.  (To date we are still far away from this, now 5 years later and this shortcoming is proving detrimental to our economy).

The statement was very interesting, as WINAIR, even at that time 2008, was in possession of these requirements.  Again no government technician was able to provide the information which would have assisted our government in making informed decisions. WINAIR agreed to return but only WITH SUBSIDY and hence the commencement of subsidy on the route.

WINAIR’s service came to an end in January, 2011. They had their own domestic challenges and were faced with a pending situation in Montserrat where they would , even with subsidy  have been obliged to compete with  a subsidized ferry  and another air carrier with whom they shared the route for a  short period; and they had  no written agreement with the Montserrat Government at that time. They had returned to take us out of a dilemma and almost panic in certain circles as they had virtually closed their inventory of airline seats into Montserrat.

The Montserrat Reporter, November 26, 2010 “WINAIR dumps Montserrat end of December”.

Both airlines presently providing a service to Montserrat are doing the best they can, but THIS IS NOT ENOUGH.  We all know this. They cannot help our development.  They were obviously the only option for the very short term. (Did our  access coordinators see this as a  long term or very short term solution?)

We must have an airline with GDS connections. This is essential. The island is suffering as neither of our airlines can be found in any detail in a Global Distribution Services. We need the exposure that such an airline will afford us. Even if it operates only a few days a week along with one or more of our existing services.

It is surprising that our access coordinators and our tourist board failed to appraise our Government  of this shortcoming in our air services. It is small wonder that only a very few people who live outside of Montserrat know how to get here.

A Virgin Atlantic executive in Barbados had to email me to ask for instructions on getting here from Antigua.  Many of us seem to have a misconception that one of our air services was handled by Virgin Atlantic in Antigua. This is untrue/incorrect as Virgin do not even handle themselves in Antigua but have a handling agent called Dispatch Services, who also handle Delta Airlines. Virgin Atlantic was previously handled in Antigua by ASA.

Unfortunately, since WINAIR discontinued their service, Montserrat has not shown up in any airline or travel agents reservation computer .Hence the need to tell even an airline employee how to get here. Call an international  airline and  tell them you want to get to Montserrat  from London, New York or anywhere, make a note of the replies you receive. On the other hand say you want to get to  Saba, St. Barts or even Barra (most dangerous airport in the world  in the Outer Hebrides). In a minute or less you will have a route and timings and fares for the latter three, but they will probably tell you that no airline flies to Montserrat any more, or worse that there seems to be no airport there. How can this help our tourist industry and indeed our development if so few know how to get here?

By the way John A Osborne/Geralds airport in not listed in the ten most dangerous airports in the world.  But Barra, most dangerous, has several BA services daily, (except Sundays)  twin otters, Saba (shortest landing strip in the world at 400 metres and second most dangerous, has four WINAIR twin otters daily.)  St Barts, third most dangerous 651 metres but very dangerous approach. Last winter they enjoyed 23 WINAIR twin otter flights per day.  WINAIR is in a GDS.

Our airport at 600 metres is under-utilized, it can accommodate 3+ twin otters per hour.

Call our airport and check.  During opening hours I reckon we could have 500+ passengers arrive in a day.  How many are we having? Our airport is easily the one most important aspect of our sustainable development.

Two of our very close Caribbean neighbours have more dangerous airports than we have, and look at their tourism, but the main airline providing their service is in a GDS, so any international  airline and any travel agent virtually anywhere in the world can tell you in seconds how to fly to Saba or St Barts.  But not to Montserrat.

We all wanted  larger and safer airports,  but our neighbours are doing so much better with theirs  than we are with ours.  Montserrat is now very little known to the airline world.   Do your own research on the most dangerous airports in the world and see their frightening approaches and  runways with no room for expansion. They are getting on with their responsibilities without complaint.

We can improve our economy with more efficient use of our airport.  It is time to take this issue seriously and either use an established functioning airline which encompasses the specifications for the use of John A Osborne airport and has the overall requirements to improve our economy and also give a measure of satisfaction to the Montserrat traveling public and  scores of potential visitors; i.e  GDS capability, connections with international carriers which could in some instances save us every cent of Antigua’s crippling taxes, (EC$300 + on an adult fare Montserrat London return.) or  have our existing air services improve by acquiring these capabilities. (And it is doubtful if a government can  “help” an “airline” with no connections to any operating airline to get into a GDS.)

My understanding is that for a twin otter operation to be viable it must carry minimum 30,000 passengers per year and this was from someone currently involved in a company in the region who operates twin otters commercially. Maintenance after every 50 hours of flying with trained certified engineers. (ECCAA requirements).

I wonder about the reason for the Noakes recent consultancy on access to totally refrain from any mention whatsoever of WINAIR.  It is difficult to imagine that our present Government did not make this so important and historical information on access to Montserrat available to him.  If so, this is not only curious but deplorable.

Occasionally a government’s “hands are tied.” Unfortunately this happens in situations where there are “mafia” type elements usually coming from individuals who are employed in decision making areas of an international government with whom one must negotiate. Sadly, areas of the world receiving certain types of aid have their economies and development stifled by this type of horror.

But communities know how to silently and patiently deal with this. Finally getting a twin otter and giving it to someone who has no GDS connections or agreements with international  airlines will compound the issue and leave us in the doldrums for many many years to come.

Also without GDS connections for our air services the tourism budget will continue to bring us very little in the form of  the  tangible returns that Montserrat  urgently needs.

The air services we now have, on their own are helping us to only “mark time”. We must move forward by using the services (additional or otherwise) of a more established airline. Our Government must take urgent steps to correct this deterrent to our growth.

Access, both air and sea, to Montserrat with possibly  only 3,000 inhabitants with earning power, would be considered by normal thinking people as part of our infrastructure. Why do the UK not tell us to stop the “want our own this and that.” These services are essential for our development and we must be assisted in paying for them, at least for the near future.

Even communist governments make a mess of managing anything they own. Montserrat has already clearly proved that this is the area of our greatest incompetence. It is really time for us to take a stand on this constant trial and error, which seems to be simply protecting the continued employment of some of DFID’s personnel. One consultant when told that certain decisions were unlikely to work happily replied “well if it doesn’t we will try something else”.

We need to use the services of established air and sea operators with whom we can negotiate arrangements for two years at a time so that we may get good rates and stop our “poverty stricken” uncertain arrangements, for very short terms.

And remember, should we want “our own” ferry, that the ferries we had from after the closure of W.H. Bramble airport in 1997  to just before the opening of our airport in 2005 recorded only 11% occupancy. Where are our records to help us make informed decisions? Also one of these beautiful ferries Opal Express and sister ship, was rotting away in Perry Bay in Antigua. On asking, a solicitor told me that the ship was The Montserrat ferry that had been seized for debts to its owners. So, we must be careful here. These two ferries were so comfortable that someone told me that travelling on them was for her “like going on a cruise.”

Will we get “our own” ferry and still have to subsidize it? I remember once while working in Plymouth an American student of AUC telling me that “logic does not apply in Montserrat”.

But as the economist very happily told me I suppose if “our own ferry doesn’t “fit the bill” we will simply try something else. In addition, all to the account of the Government and people of Montserrat.

Our SDP 2008 -2010 “The SDP recognizes that Montserrat’s economy is demand deficient and without effective and efficient access by air and sea will remain in the doldrums.” Do our Government and their technicians not read these reports?  If no one knows how to get here by air, how can our economy be anything but demand deficient and getting progressively in the doldrums?  A learned black man once wrote, if you want to hide something from a black man put it in writing.   But that, I imagine would have been decades ago.

So many economists and yet SO MUCH HOPE (political and otherwise) VERSUS ECONOMIC REALITY.!!!

GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM: An unbiased booking engine through which airlines and travel agents can access the schedules and fares of over 850 airlines, and a raft of travel services.

The main Global Distribution Networks (GDS) are:

Amadeus with 900+ airlines and travel agents worldwide
Galileo
Sabre
Worldspan.

Please let us have some discussion on this. Perhaps I should have sent it out some time ago.

Gloria.