Ryanair. Free air travel. Ballon d’Or

Not a lot of news recently, so this is a bit of a mixed offering:


Image result for ryanairSomething of a political war of words seems to have broken out over the possibility of Ryanair flying to Madeira. The Diario reports that CDS-PP parliamentary leader, Rui Barreto, has expressed “great concern” and “amazement” at the statements by the regional secretary for Economy, Tourism and Culture about Ryanair’s interest in flying to Madeira. He cannot understand that Eduardo Jesus considered the proposal of the low-cost company “unenforceable” when he believes that Madeira needs this company to guarantee competition. It is not quite clear exactly what Ryanair was proposing?
Rui Barreto also found it “disgusting” that the secretary had advertised trips from Madeira to Switzerland at the price of a Boss shirt, and asked: “How many shirts does a Madeira family have to buy so that his student son on the mainland can spend Christmas In Madeira? “. The Tourism Secretary’s comments were made at press conference to mark the first flight to be operated by easyJet between Madeira and Basel in Switzerland. The operation, which commenced on December 6, will be weekly on Tuesdays, using an A319 and an A320 with capacity for 156 and 180 passengers respectively.

Free air travel

clip_image001On the same subject, the Guardian, Independent and Telegraph all recently carried the story that many seats on Ryanair flights could be free in a decade’s time, according to the airline’s chief executive. Michael O’Leary said his ambition was to offer zero fares – with the airline making its money from sharing revenues with airports where it had attracted passengers.
“The challenge for us in the future is to keep driving air fares down. I have this vision that in the next five to 10 years that the air fares on Ryanair will be free, in which case the flights will be full, and we will be making our money out of sharing the airport revenues; of all the people who will be running through airports, and getting a share of the shopping and the retail revenues at airports.”
Simon Calder, the Independent’s travel editor, gives his thoughts here. Of course there is the small matter of Airport Passenger Duty, which typically adds a minimum of £13.00 to short-haul flights at the moment.

Ballon d’Or

The announcement of the winner of this years Ballon d’Or wil be made next Monday night, with Cristiano Ronaldo, that most famous son of Madeira, understood to be favourite to win his fourth title. Thanks to Jorge in the last “Comments” for drawing attention to CR7’s contribution to the Leading Island awards. Such is the power of social media nowadays! Madeira is lucky to have such a connection – it would be foolish not to use it.

Blog stats

The next few days will see the total number of visitors to the site pass the 1,250,000 mark since Google Analytics was installed in 2009. The average visitor views just over three pages.

Helder Afonso

Another great video added to YouTube recently – this time an aerial view of the Britannia cruise ship and the port of Funchal

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Christmas lights. More seafront work?

Christmas lights turned on

Christmas lights in FunchalThe Christmas lights have been going up in Funchal over the last few weeks and were duly turned on last night to welcome the many visitors expected over the festive period. A total of €3.2 million will be spent in Funchal this year with the Christmas lights costing €1.5 million and €800,000 being spent on the New Year’s Eve firework display. In total the  spend is down €500,000 on last year. The Christmas lights, with more than 600,000 light-bulbs being illuminated, will remain in place until January 8th.

Poor weather continues

The unusually indifferent weather continues, with more wind and rain overnight, including some spectacular sheet lightning out towards the Desertas around 7.00 this morning. A weather warning has been issued by the Port of Funchal for most of today, with waves much stronger than usual. The Portuguese Met Office reported that overnight almost 35 litres of rain fell per square metre in an hour at the weather station at Pico do Areeiro.

Further seafront development investigated

Funchal seafront

Last Sunday’s Diario led with the story that €7.5 million will be spent over the next three years on investigating the possibility of further developing the port and seafront in Funchal. A series of reports are expected to emerge, presumably including the possibility of further extending the main docking “arm” to provide further protection for the new facilities completed last year including the controversial “Pier 8” which has encountered problems since being commissioned – previous posts

TAP office move

Old TAP office in FunchalYesterday saw the offices of TAP in Funchal move about 500 metres from their high-profile seafront location to Rua da Alfândega. Not much news on TAP nowadays after their problems were reportedly resolved by the buy-out last year -, but this looks like a bit of a cost-cutting exercise, although one questions the need for plush offices when most bookings will be on-line.

Big day for Europe

Italian referendum headline from Independent

Sunday is decision day in Italy, with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi threatening to resign if his constitutional reforms are not accepted. Rejection would lead to a new election with a “populist” vote possibly backing a party in favour of a referendum on EU membership. This would really spook the markets as, with €360 billion of bad debt on their books, Italian banks could be in serious trouble – they hold 40% of the total EU bad debt, and capital is leaving the country at  an alarming rate. The repercussions for all of Europe could be considerable, even though the majority of Italians are believed to be pro-European. Opinion polls showed a close-call before a blackout prior to the vote.

English Church Christmas Fair

English Charch in Funchal

The English Church are holding a Christmas Fair tomorrow (Sat) 10.30 – 15.00. Free admission.

Update: World’s Leading Island Destination – again!

Tonight saw the Madeira Islands voted the World’s Leading Island Destination for the second consecutive year.


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Pay for EU citizenship post Brexit? Il Gallo d’Oro. Golden Gate.

EU citizenship proposal could guarantee rights in Europe after Brexit

Brexit negotiator Verhofstadt As Brexit takes shape, The Times reports this morning that Britons could pay to retain the benefits of European Union citizenship under plans being considered by MEPs. The European parliament’s lead Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt said he supported the principle of the idea, which would see UK citizens sending an annual fee to Brussels. The former Belgian prime minister said Britons who voted remain did not want to sever their links to the EU. “Many say ‘we don’t want to cut our links’,” he told the Times. “I like the idea that people who are European citizens and saying they want to keep it have the possibility of doing so. As a principle I like it.”
The Times website is only accessible in full by subscription (I think you can get two articles free per week?), but there is more in the Guardian here and The Telegraph here.

Il Gallo d’Oro adds second Michelin Star

Staff at Il Gallo d'Oro

The Michelin Guide for Spain and Portugal was published last week and Il Gallo d’Oro found that it has been awarded a second Michelin Star – one of only five such awards in Portugal. The restaurant, situated at the Cliff Bay Hotel on the Estrada Monumental in Funchal, received the award for the first time in 2009 and was the first restaurant on the island of Madeira to receive this distinction.

Golden Gate sold for €4.75 million

As reported in a previous post the Golden Gate Cafe was auctioned last week by the Regional Government, in consultation with the bank owning the property. The indicative minimum value of the property was €2 million, but four proposals were submitted in sealed envelopes, with losing bids between €2.5 million and €3,560 million. The highest bid was submitted by the “Sociedade Gold Medal”, which eventually acquired the property for €4.748,000. The proceeds will be shared between the Regional Government and Millennium BCP.

Golden Gate Cafe

“This auction is important, especially for the unique understanding protocol between the Government and a private entity,” said the regional director of Heritage, Hélder Fernandes, underlining that in this way, the Golden Gate Cofe will be returned to Funchal.

The nineteenth century property, also known as “Corner of the World”, closed its doors on August 3rd, 2014 due to the insolvency of the previous owners. Fernandes stressed that “the space must always use the same name” – although I recall from somewhere that the name “Grande Cafe” was also used in association with the building?

British tourist dies in Levada fall

Saturday morning saw a British tourist, a 43 year-old woman, fall 100 metres to her death whilst walking the Levada do Norte at Eira do Mourao above Ribeira Brava. Sky News coverage here amid calls for more safety along the more dangerous levada walks. The Mail has a big story here, whilst RTP Madeira’s Facebook page shows video footage of part of the 4-hour recovery operation. Our thoughts go out to her family.

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