As this edition goes to press, six months will have passed since the reintroduction of direct flights from Gibraltar to Spain. In those first few days the unusual sight of seeing an Iberia flag on a plane’s tail at the airport in December has now become commonplace barely worthy of mention. Indeed this month our very own carrier in the form of GB Airways joined Iberia in starting a daily service between the Rock and Madrid.
And it is not just the commercial community that is enjoying the benefits. Leisure travellers too are becoming more frequent visitors to the Spanish capital. We do not yet know about traffic from the capital to Gibraltar but in time this will grow as a matter of course. It is expected that many well-heeled Madrileños who own properties in the resorts of Sotogrande and Alcaidesa will substantially increase load factors on flights to the Rock this summer as they commute on a weekly basis.
These flight connections have not only opened new doors for the Rock’s business community. They have given easier and faster access to the Spanish capital and beyond for all those people living and working in the Campo as well. This development is coming to represent the new normality. The pity, as highlighted by the Chairman of GB Airways, is that is has taken so long to get here.
Cordoba’s four-part checklist shows that the pensions issue has been settled for the Spanish, although some dissent remains over the unequal treatment of our own kith and kin. The other two issues agreed at Cordoba, namely a more freely flowing frontier and recognition of Gibraltar’s 350 international dialing code, have both had teething problems. These have given cause for frustration and the accusatory finger pointing in equal measure.
Some of these problems were anticipated but many others were avoided due to the hard work and commitment of those involved, not least in the complex area of international telecommunications. Not everything is ticking along smoothly yet but the main point is that things are moving in the right direction and there is generally a will to make things work. This will be for the benefit of all.
Plans for the new air terminal and link road have just been announced and the tenders for these works have been issued. These works will cause further upheaval, delays and frustration during the construction phase. On a related matter the Chamber acknowledges that congestion is becoming an issue of increasing importance to everyone in Gibraltar, not just its members. In the coming months we will be looking at ways how this can be addressed. We invite members and non-members alike to contribute to the debate. It is in all our interests to see it resolved.