TAP strike latest. Funchal property most expensive in Portugal.

Union says most TAP pilots will join strike from May 1 to 10

The Portugal News reports that the union representing pilots working for TAP Air Portugal expects 90% of them to take part in a strike called for the first ten days of May. It also accuses the company and the government of seeking "desperately to fabricate and foster imaginary divisions among pilots with the aim of persuading them not to defend their legitimate strategic interests". Such "manoeuvres", the union statement adds, will not succeed. TAP has a total 986 pilots, 786 of which are union members, which would lead to a total of two thirds supporting the strike.

Lisbon’s striking International Airport (Portela Airport) pictured (forgive the pun!)
The strike was called on the grounds that the government is not fulfilling either an agreement signed in December last year, nor one established in 1999, both giving pilots the right to shares in the company as part of any future privatisation. The government hopes to sell a 66% share in TAP by as early as this summer. Portugal’s Business Confederation, CIP, called on pilots not to go ahead with the strike, which it described as "an act of irresponsibility" and liable to damage the country’s economy. Certainly visitors to Madeira connecting through Lisbon will be affected if the strike goes ahead.

Funchal property market holding up

The Diario reports today that the average price in Funchal remained pretty much steady in March and that housing in the capital of Madeira continues be the most expensive residential area of Portugal – more expensive than in the metropolitan area of ​​Lisbon as a whole. This is in spite of, or perhaps a consequence of, the dramatic slow down in building since the economic crisis began. At the end of March 2015, the bank valuation of residential property in the city was €1,294/ per square metre (€1,161/m2 for the island as a whole).
The latest figures show that the most expensive areas of Funchal have a valuation of €1,816/m2 – the paper calculates that a 500m2 house at this level would be valued at €908,000 and a 300m2 apartment valued at more than 544,000 (that is a very large apartment?).

Sterling

With general election approaching in the UK and uncertainty over Greece’s future in Europe, the pound has been all over the place for the last couple of months:

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Still a long way off the 2008/9 low of just over parity.

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Porto Bay Lisbon. TripAdvisor awards. Fatima Spinola. Ferry rumours.

Porto Bay’s 11th hotel, and its first in Lisbon, has finally been officially opened with “great fanfare” – almost ten years after the start of the project. The “Liberdade” is not far from the Marquês de Pombal in the heart of the city, and boasts a 1920’s facade which has been maintained. Lots of politicians and tourism heavyweights attended the ceremony, although the hotel has actually been welcoming guests for some months. €24 million has been invested in the project, which employs 60 people.

TripAdvisor top ten

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Madeira has been voted the 6th best island destination in the world in a competition run by TripAdvisor, who asked travellers to vote across a number of categories (link above). The usual suspects appear above Madeira, with Providenciales (“Provo”) in the Turks & Caicos taking first place. It was also rated as second best in Europe after the Greek island of Santorini.

Fatima Spinola

The House of Culture in Câmara de Lobosis, until May 22, hosting a solo exhibition by Fatima Spinola, entitled "Risk – who’s afraid of the pencil?". The exhibits include a series of drawings, prints and paintings by the artist from Santana, which he describes as "a set of portraits and self-portraits, figurative and conceptual, marking many moments and moods".
Facebook page here.
Hours: Mon to Fri. from 10.00 to 19.00

Red Cross food collections this weekend

The Portuguese Red Cross (CVP) launches a national campaign today with three days of collection of food and essential goods that target poor households supported by the organization across the country. As usual, during the three days CVP volunteers will be in many supermarkets, including some in Madeira, to collect any non-perishable food donated by customers (if you want to take part they suggest milk, flour, olive oil, cereals, rice, pasta, sugar, and canned foods – just pop a few items in a separate carrier bag). The donated food is distributed to needy families identified by around 100 branches of the Red Cross, who claim that 2.6 million people in the country live at risk of poverty.

ARMAS ferry – rumoured to return?

A number of non-mainstream sources have been reporting over the last few days that the ferry from the mainland to Madeira is set to return, possibly as early as the end of next month. Nothing credible to add to this, other than a slightly positive comment from the son of the owner of ARMAS, indicating that talks may be taking place. If anything happens it will appear here.

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New Calheta hotel opens. Herbicide controversy.

The new 4-star Saccharum hotel in Calheta was inaugurated at the weekend and will welcome its first guests before the end of the month. The hotel has two outdoor pools, an indoor pool, health club, business centre, meeting rooms and restaurant. There are  175 rooms, 6 suites and 62 apartments. The above is an artists impression, but there are some photos of it  during the construction stage in a previous blog and others on skyscraper city.
The project has been undertaken by Grupo AFA, a company founded here in Madeira in 1980. It has undertaken various construction and public works on the island, as well as developing interests in Mauritania, Senegal, and the Republic of Angola. This group is also associated with the Calheta Beach Hotel, the only other major hotel in the resort.

Flower production up

Quinta da Boa VistaData provided by the Regional Directorate of Agriculture and Rural Development shows that there are 135 “floricultural holdings” on the island (both outdoors and in greenhouses), occupying a total of 45 hectares (just 36 hectares in 2002), predominantly specialising in the production of orchids, anthuriums, proteas , roses and gerberas. The industry is reckoned to generate an income of €6 million annually
(Quinta da Boa Vista pictured)

Herbicide controversy

Livestock farmers fear that the animals are affected by toxic product.

The Diario today reports on controversy surrounding the use of herbicides to clear the verges of the road from Prazeres to Fonte do Bispo (Fajã da Ovelha). This is an area where cattle graze freely, and their use has provoked outrage from animal owners and led to the arrest of the President the local Parish Council. There are also concerns that the herbicides will combine with recent heavy rain and infiltrate the groundwater that feeds local springs. It was only after photos such as that above were published on social media that concerns were raised.
Opinion is divided on the extent of the impact – “The damage is done,” says the president of the Fajã da Ovelha Cattle Breeders, whilst the Regional Roads Directorate (DRE) says the fears are unfounded.

Flower Festival video

A (rather lengthy) video of the flower festival yesterday has already been uploaded to YouTube here

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