AJJ work “done”. Norwegian Air. ANA profit. CR7.

Work of Alberto Alberto João Jardim “done”

The Diario is reporting that there was much talk at the weekend of AJJ’s “work” being nearly complete as President of the Regional Government of Madeira – this was at the close of the XXIV Cider Festival that took place in the parish of Santo da Serra. A ceremony took place at the local “People’s House” to which notably neither the Mayor of Santa Cruz nor the president of the Parish of Santo da Serra were apparently invited. There are five candidates to succeed him as leader of PSD-M later this year: Miguel Albuquerque, Miguel Sousa, Sérgio Marques, Manuel António Correia e João Cunha e Silva. Meanwhile, the Mayor of Lisbon, António Costa, has won the Madeiran leg of the primary elections for leadership of the national Socialist Party (PS) – a party that AJJ, who has been in position since 1978, describes as “having led Portugal into bankruptcy”. Costa recently declared a commitment to “building a political alternative in Madeira to dislodge the PSD from the Regional Government” adding "Madeira is a historic turning point. After tens of years, the Quinta Vigia tenant will change" and noted that "the internal implosion in PSD Madeira is a clear signal that there will be a policy change".

Norwegian Air

clip_image002Following up on BA’s announcement that it is to recommence flights next May, Norwegian Air has announced that it will operate two weekly flights (Tuesdays and Saturdays) between London Gatwick Airport and Madeira from October 28th. Prices start at £39.90 one way. Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, commercially branded “Norwegian”, is a low-cost airline listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange and is the second largest airline in Scandinavia and third largest low cost carrier in Europe. More than 20 million passengers fly on its network per year.

Continued airport growth, and ANA profits

Still on an air traffic theme, Portugal’s airports saw passenger numbers grow 4.9% in 2013 compared to the year before. According to figures released by the National Statistics Institute, 32.6 million passengers used the nation’s airports last year. The number of aircraft rose 1.5% with 149,600 flights landing and taking off. Lisbon held on to the number one spot with 49% of passengers using the capital’s airport (much improved lately in my opinion), an increase of nearly 5% compared to 2012; while the airports serving Oporto and the Algarve saw rises of 5.3% and 5.4%. Faro has a market share of 18% while Madeira and the Azores carried 10.4% of national traffic.
This all good news for the French owners of airport management company ANA, which was sold by the government as part of its privatisation obligations to the Troika of lenders that organised Portugal’s bailout. Landing charges, ground rents and sharp rises in costs for airport based businesses have enabled ANA to use its unregulated monopoly position to substantially raise revenues and make large cash contributions to its parent Vinci Group which paid over €3 billion for ANA.

Ronaldo form continues

A lot of press stories recently link Madeira’s favourite son, CR7, with a possible return to Manchester United. In the meantime he has picked up where he left off last season, with the second strike in his current clubs 2-0 win over Villarreal beingthe footballer’s 11th of the season in La Liga in just six games. It was the continuation of a campaign that has seen Ronaldo racking up 21 Spanish premiership hat-tricks, and 25 in all for Real Madrid. Each of the hat-trick balls go on display in the CR7 Museum, which will be needing an extension at this rate. He now has 187 league goals in 170 games, closing in on the all time club record set up Raúl.

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Madeira ferry set to return? Selvagens protest. BA returns.

As previously reported in the blog, the leadership candidate of the PSD-M party has increased the likelihood of the re-introduction of the ARMAS ferry should he be voted into power. Thanks to everybody who drew attention to this in the “Comments” section of the previous blog.

Miguel de Sousa acertou ontem com Antonio Armas aspectos essenciais para que a linha Canárias - Funchal - Portimão seja reactivada.The candidate for the leadership of the PSD-M and former deputy executive of Madeira, Miguel de Sousa, met in the Canaries yesterday with executives of Naviera Armas, the company which between 2008 and 2012 delivered the maritime link between Las Palmas, Funchal and Portimão and vice versa. The outcome of the meeting was an assurance from Antonio Armas that the shipping company will return to the island in the right political circumstances. After the trip to Las Palmas, Miguel de Sousa told the Diario that Naviera Armas had been hurt by the way it was treated in the region in late 2011 and early 2012. “We talked at length about the closure…..I got to know the different situations and obstacles experienced by the operator. I am able to say that, if elected the President of the Regional Government, the conditions for the immediate resumption of the maritime operations of Armas, which is the desire of most islanders, will be created” (photo: Miguel de Sousa with Antonio Armas on Tuesday).
Naviera Armas announced on January 27, 2012 that it was discontinuing the Madeira stop-over. At the time operator blamed the Government for the decision after it refused a request for reduction of port charges made ​​by the Spanish company (the ferry is pictured below in Portimão, although most Armas operations are in the Canaries).

A regional election will be held in Madeira in October 2015 to determine the composition of the Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region of Madeira. The election will be the first in which the current President of the Region, Alberto João Jardim, will not be on the ballot paper as he has already stated that he would step down as President and leader of the PSD-Madeira in January 2015. The PSD-Madeira will elect a new leader in December 2014 and the winner will become President of the Regional Government and will contest this election. Can’t imagine a Madeira without AJJ………….

Selvagens “invaded” by protestors

The two separatists who landed on the Sevagems are still in place according to the Diario (the Journal reports four activists, while the photo shows three?). According to press agency Lusa, the activists remain “on the ground”, awaiting a decision by the Portuguese Navy, who sent a patrol ship to the islands on Tuesday. The same source also said that the Navy inspected a fishing boat that was moored nearby,
The group of activists belonging to Alternativa Nacionalista Canária (ANC) “landed” on Monday, planting a nationalist flag in protest against the oil prospecting planned for the area, and claiming sovereignty over the Portuguese archipelago, which lies closer to the Canaries than Madeira. An ANC spokesman told Lusa that the movement does not want “any open conflict with Portugal” – which has sovereignty over the islands – but wants to “sensitize the Portuguese to the problem of oil prospecting”. He explained that the ANC supports the independence of the Canary Islands and in that scenario, “one would have to talk to Portugal”, suggesting that “a median line be drawn with Madeira, which would put the Selvagens in Canarian territory ” – the islands are closer to the Canaries than to Madeira (165 kilometres north of the Canary Islands and 250 kilometres south of Funchal) and the territory has been at the centre of some controversy for a while, mostly due to mineral rights.

BA recommence Madeira flights

imageAgain, thanks to those who commented on British Airways announcement that it is to resume operations to and from Madeira next year from its base at Gatwick. The flights start on May 11th next year and will use A319 and A320 aircraft. The sale of tickets begins today with three weekly flights during the summer months and two each week over the winter.

The new route means that an extra 20,000 seats will become available and the announcement has the full support of the Madeiran and Portuguese tourist boards which are helping pay for the privilege –  British Airways stopped flying to Madeira when the skies were opened to low-cost carriers with easyJet quickly opening up a route to the island. Airports operator ANA has admitted that the Gatwick – Madeira route will be subsidised by the Portuguese taxpayer through support payments to British Airways from the local Madeiran tourist board and the national Portuguese tourist board, in addition to payments from the airport management company, although this arrangement is apparently no different to deals done with the low-cost carriers.

World Tourism Day – free museum entry

The 27th of September sees free entry to museums and gardens to celebrate World Tourism Day. The official visitmadeira web site is not particularly forthcoming with details, so if anybody comes across them can they post a link please?

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Ryanair wants to fly to “complicated” Madeira. North coast road to reopen?

Ryanair “wants to fly to Madeira”

Ryanair “wants to fly to the Azores and Madeira, and is negotiating the release of these routes” confirmed the CEO of the low cost airline last week.  During a press conference, Michael O’Leary expressed interest in launching routes to the islands of the Azores, explaining that “the government has to solve the liberalization and encourage airlines”. In relation to Madeira, an official explained that it “is negotiating the release of links” (not quite sure what that means?), but before that, the company has to “overcome complications” as pilots must have special training to take-off and land at the airport in Madeira. “We need pilots with special training, because it is a very complicated airport” he said.
In July, the President of the Azores Government announced an agreement with the national executive that provides for the liberalization of air links between the mainland and two islands of the archipelago and the halving of tariffs for residents. Accordingly Public Service Obligations (PSOs) on flights between the Azores and the rest of the country (mainland and Madeira), negotiated with the Economy Ministry, provide for the liberalization of routes between Lisbon and Oporto and the islands of S. Miguel and Terceira. “With this liberalization, these routes will become fully open to the entry of any airline, including so-called ‘low cost’ “, he said. Currently only SATA and TAP fly to the Azores.

Old road appreciated as a tourist attraction

Emanuel Câmara anuncia reabertura para a Páscoa.Regardless of the danger, the Municipality of Porto Moniz wants to see a section of the old north coast road between Seixal, and São Vicente partially reopened next Easter, allowing tourists to appreciate the “Bride’s Veil” waterfall. This stretch of road has been inaccessible since an accident that killed two tourists in 2006. The aim is to have it reopened “with some constraints, within about 8 months”. The flagship route is considered one of the greatest tourist attractions on the northern coast and the reopening will further enhance the region as a whole.

New seafront beach and square christened

The new beach featured in one of the previous blogs, between the Praça da Autonomia and the Forte de São Tiago has been named ‘Praia do Almirante Reis’.
The large landscaped square (opposite) in front of the Legislative Assembly, will be called the “Praça do Povo” (‘People’s Square’), said the vice-presidency in a note to the media a couple of days ago.

New €10 note on Tuesday:

imageA new €10 note in the “Europa” series launches on September 23rd ( the link on the image opposite provides details on the look and feel, together with new security features. This is the second note in a new series of euro banknotes characterized by the representation of a portrait of Europe (Greek mythological figure) in the watermark and the hologram on each denomination.
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Sterling

On another financial “note”, Sterling strengthened yet again over recent days, as the Scottish Referendum result was announced, ending the week on €1.27.

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