Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This is the first post of what is turning out to be a most frustrating day . . .

One major irony associated with Ryanair's decision to locate its NW Iberia hub in Oporto is that the airport expects to benefit enormously from next year's Xacobeo Year, in which Catholics can get extra time off their Purgatory sentence if they make the pilgrimage to Santiago. Reminding us once again that it was the RC Church which invented Marketing.

Our major local paper - The Voz de Galicia - reports today that the airline's decision is a major blow to our economy and that our three airport cities are now demanding a plan from the Xunta which will allow them to compete. Rather too late for this, I would have thought. This horse has bolted, jumping over spilt milk as he fled. Of course, the Voz didn't see this as a really important development and so put it on page 4. The major front-page news was that the new Miss Universe from Venezuela has grandparents in Galicia and might well come and visit them. We all get the governments we deserve. So, God help us.

But why, I hear you ask, did Ryanair favour Oporto over, say, Santiago? Well, my guess is that they found someone who could - unlike our new President - speak to them in English. And that the Portuguese were not distracted by arguments about whether the official documents should be in Gallego or Spanish. But I could be wrong. It could just be rank stupidity and inefficiency on the part of our businessmen and politicians.

More later.


CafeMark said...

It's common knowledge that Ryanair prefer airports with low charges (indeed it's rumoured that some regional authorities paid Ryanair to fly to them). I suspect then that Porto was more attractive financially to Ryanair. Whilst talking about transport links, the news in the UK is that there will be a new high speed train link between London and Scotland. But not until at least 2030. You thought you were having it bad waiting until 2016 for your high-speed link?

ointe said...

As ever it seems impossible to make a short response to your comments. The airports in Galicia are one part of the trouble with central government of Madrid. I´ll resume the politics in this respect for you: All air passengers to and from Galicia are kindly enforced to make conection flyings in Madrid. The history is large, but one or two tips will make it more clear for you.

Iberia was the last big airline to make direct flights from Santiago airport (from now Lavacolla) to Latin America. First were Viasa, AA, and others. The market of emigrants that take vacations in Galicia is very attractive even now (much more, time ago).

All plans for airport technical infrastructures, train connections, free highways to Santiago airport etc. are in hands of Ministerio de Fomento...Madrid.

Try to go to Lavacolla to make a fly alone and you´ll know something more: that 60 km on taxi can cost more than 1000 km on plane. And why? well, road is the only connection to Lavacolla and there´s only one highway with one of the steepest prices in Europe. That´s one of the main reasons to have three airports trying to compete for low cost airlines, not "individualismo" I fear.

The people in Oporto know well these miserable politics of central government and take good advantage: free taxi to anyplace in Galicia if galician flyers use TAP to go to Galicia with a step in Oporto. This was the offer from TAP exclusively for galicians. Result: more than 500000 passengers in Oporto are from Galicia.
This is why too, the high velocity train to Oporto was delayed from 2015 to 2025. About 10years after conection to Madrid.
Welcome to Galicia Colin.

Juan said...

Ointe - this is one of the things that annoys me most about Spain. I understand that there is a never-ending struggle to keep a balance between regional and central powers (with regional governments seeing any sign of autonomy as a step towards independence and the central government feeling the need to keep a strangle hold on all communities) but it is so ridiculous to have to fly from anywhere in the world to Madrid and then from Madrid to anywhere in Spain!

Spain is a great place to visit. It has an incredible history, a lot of regional diversity and an amazing climate. Unfortunately, these things don't help in times of crisis. People are looking for cheap and convenient and Spain is not doing well on either (though much better in the cheap category, surely). If we want to see tourism go up again, we should be calling for serious reforms and abolishing this stupid fly-Madrid policy should be first on the list!

Colin Davies said...


Thank-you again for taking the trouble to comment.

But I'm not sure what your main point is. That it's all the fault of Madrid??

I know all about what TAP does and about the difficulty/cost of getting to any airport in Galicia. There isn't even a bus from Pontevedra to Vigo airport, for example, though there is a bus several times a day from Vigo to Oporto airport.

But there are direct flights from the UK to both Santiago and Vigo via Ryanair and Vueling. And possibly some BA flights into La Corunha from London. But I would never drive to LC to catch a flight, partly because the tolls are higher than if I drive to Oporto. Which can be nil if I take the Minho/coast roads.

But is this really all the fault of Madrid?? Didn't the Vigo council refuse to pay the subsidies demanded by EasyJet? Didn't Santiago do the same to Ryanair? As CafeMark says, these airlines will go to whoever gives them the best deal and it seems to me that the Galician cities/airports simply couldn't get their act together. More because of localism than individualismo.

Anonymous said...

hello, my dear friend colin, sorry that these days i haven't got the time for your always extremely interesting blog, but i'm a bit busy and travelling too, but I promise i'll come back in a few weeks time, to continue to show you the right path and point out at your ever present prejudices against the glorious Galician Nation, partly caused by your excessive reading of that consumate liar by the name of George Borrow, but also due to your lack of intelligence ...

Anyway, before i go, about the airpor, that's good news to me: I will land straight away in the land where they speak my own language, galician (otherwise known as Portuguese)

Anonymous said...

By the way, I take the chance to advise all your readership (intelligent and otherwise) to go visit northern Portugal (Galiza portuguesa), where they will find most of the Galician culture (including the language) better preserved than in the Spanish "Galicia", where most things are diluted in a "all-embracing" Spanish soap that make the perfect retreat for idiots (and otherwise) in search of the rich "Spanish" regional cultures" ...

Talk to you all soon!

(Stick that airport one up Madrid arse ha ha ha!)

Anonymous said...

By the way, I take the chance to advise all your readership (intelligent and otherwise) to go visit northern Portugal (Galiza portuguesa), where they will find most of the Galician culture (including the language) better preserved than in the Spanish "Galicia", where most things are diluted in a "all-embracing" Spanish soap that make the perfect retreat for idiots (and otherwise) in search of the rich "Spanish" regional cultures" ...

Talk to you all soon!

(Stick that airport one up Madrid arse ha ha ha!)

ointe said...

Yes, we want a competitive world, no more, no less. This centralism (the same is true on railways)is not a serious option these days. To Madrid in train in less than 3h by 2015 and to Gijón (at 1/3 of distance) in 9h? What are the priorities here? Of course it´s more important for us have a good connection to Europe, not only for passengers but for export/import cars, stone products, fish products, etc. And this connection is about half the distance if done following the Cantabric coast of Spain, and not via Madrid.

Madrid is only an autonomous community. Wnen I mentioned Madrid I was pointing to central government, I spect that´s clear.
Anyway it´s good time to say that the money spent in the infamous T4 of Barajas is about twice the assigned resources for infrastructures to all Galicia community this year, and about 4 times of year 2000 (when T4 was being built). And yes, I think the responsability of this situation in Galicia is of central government.

Possibly if the city councils of Vigo, Coruña and Santiago act accordingly they can do things better than now, but this will not resolve the problem of airport communications with the rest of Galicia. They´re stuck with a very deficient road system that is in hands of Ministerio de Fomento mostly. They´re stuck with an ever diminishing internal railway system, and no plans to pass near any airport. All this in a community heavily dispersed. Because,just in case you don´t know it, Galicia has about 50% of all the villages and small towns of Spain (more than 30000). Do you know how many times the people complains about the road system here? Even go themselves to repair the big holes in most of the roads, only to be FINED by CENTRAL GOVERNMENT with the excuse that they´re "ruining" public properties!

Subsidize everything is a bad politic from my point of view. It´s much better to have a free and efficient surface communication system that makes subsidies almost unnecesary or heavily counteracted with benefits. The passenger movement in Galicia exists, but the only way to be competitive is making one airport the main receptor of investments... and COMMUNICATE it with the rest of his influence area.

And I suppose you don´t deny that the main favored with this situation are not other than Madrid ,his airport and Iberia/Spanair (the ones that make the connection flights to Coruña, Vigo or Santiago from Madrid). Well, and in the last years...Oporto.

Colin Davies said...


Yes, I did realise that Madrid was shorthand for the central government and not the AC.

And, yes, I totally agree that Galicia needs a single airport with an integrated road and rail system. And that, right now, it seems to be getting the worst of all worlds. But this must also reflect the incompetence of local politicians as well as the Madrid-centricity fo the national government.

I do find it hard, though, to agree with you that, in general, Galicia's roads are bad. I travel a lot - and not just north and south - and find the roads good everywhere. Is it that you want more of them, not better quality?

ointe said...

I´ll never be going to defend the three majors (from the national party PSOE) of the three cities involved. Indeed, I recognize that the example of the bus service to Peinador in Vigo, as well as the trouble between majors of Coruña and Culleredo, for example, only make things worse. Also is evident that they´re not very upset with the actual situation. But with them or not, PSOE, PP or BNG in his councils, the main problem is the same.

With respect to roads here, apart from the named deficiencies in airports, there are a mere 12 m road to access Ferrol, more or less the same for Vigo, more or less the same for Lugo and so on. On all of them there are light and heavy transports mixed, that make the average velocity more or less 50km/h. But if you are in a "hurry" you can use the highway in all of these, being ready to feel how is the oficial robbery system.

Quality is the problem. The same infrastructure enhanced, with good maintenance and well connected to Lavacolla, can do the trick. But it´s not in hands of any Galician government unfortunately. May be if we get the competences on traffic and the M.Fomento road system...

Some music. At 82 years age she launched her first CD:

Anonymous said...

dear dear i just pop in to check the effect of my comments on you brainless people only to see my desmay increased ...

what is all this nonsense about the Galician airports? Is not enough with Porto's? One international airport will do, you sad buch! Can't you think of other type of development, more rational and sustentable?

What about investing in a Galician inter-urban railway net?

Who is so idiot not to have thought yet about the irrationality of building nets of communication that marginalise the people's development to favour the big capital groups, which of course support the central goverment (and the acolites in the regional goverments)?

Eamon said...

There are active groups in Galicia who don't want to see rail improvements or better roads. They want their villages to remain as they are.

Anonymous said...

yeah, mike, the sort of people still hanging on to canibalism and similar ancient practises (nowadays all but extinct, unfortunately). It reminds me of some active groups of Irish islanders, who don't want to see any improvement in their communications with mainland Ireland, so that they remain "as they are".