Festive flights fiasco
Thousands of passengers are having to rethink their travel plans over the festive period with unions representing all of TAP Portugal’s twelve different departments deciding on Wednesday night in favour of strike action for a period of four days from 27 to 30 December. The move cannot help the Government’s announcement last month that it has renewed its efforts to privatise the national flag carrier. Portugal’s Minister for the Economy, Pires de Lima, is to return from the States to attend last minute meetings but according to various press reports any hopes of a settlement around the negotiating table appear unlikely. In their joint statement, the unions said the strike action was aimed “at encouraging the Government to put the brakes on the privatisation process”. However, Pires de Lima, when questioned as to whether there was a possibility of the Government going back on its plans to privatise the airline, answered “that is not even a matter for consideration”.
The national airline took to social media yesterday to clarify its position on the matter. In a post in English on its Facebook page, the airline said: “TAP is aware, as communicated by the media, that a strike has been decided today. Still, we have not yet received any official notice from any union confirming this information. If and when the notice required by law is received, all the information will be communicated to our customers”. Due to the airline’s position, passengers with flights already booked for 27,28,29 and 30 December, are unable to make changes to their flights without incurring additional costs. Update below.
Birds of prey photos to stop
Just realised that I missed a bit of good news last week; Funchal Municipal Council has finally decided to prohibit the “traveling exhibitions of animals for commercial purposes” through the streets of the city. In other words they are outlawing the photos sold to tourists of them posing with various birds of prey, cruelly tethered on short leads. The local authority has claimed for some while that the eradication of a number of groups considered to be operating illegally has been a priority, but has now taken concrete steps to prohibit the activity, requesting the intervention of the Public Security Police (PSP). CMF has also tried to warn one operator specifically against what is considered to be an "occupation of public roads to carry out an exhibition for commercial purposes" – Tiago Cardoso holds a license issued by the Natural Park of Madeira, which lets you keep captive animals, but this does not allow him to operate on the public road in the municipality. He has been asked to cease his activities and the Natural Park of Madeira appraised of the situation.
Christmas light controversy continues
The Diario reports that a demonstration against the perceived poor quality of the lights this year has now been organised for this Saturday on Facebook: As of early Friday, 714 say they will be attending.
Meanwhile the beleaguered Regional Secretary for Tourism and Transport, Conceição Estudante, who is held responsible for the controversial lights, will attend their official opening at 6.00pm today (Fri) at Infoart Space, Avenida Arriaga. Apparently more lights still have to be installed (see previous blog) – perhaps people are over-reacting too quickly? That would be not be good for the island as it just generates unnecessary negative publicity.
Update: the company installing the lights, Luzoesfera, has had its deadline extended to next Friday, 19th December. Conceição Estudante said yesterday that its failure was “very clear”, including using colours that were not specified. It has emerged, however, that the budget is only €98,000 this year compared to as much as €300,000 in previous years.
TAP strike update
The Portugal News reports that some deft work from Pires de Lima (see lead story above) on Friday afternoon gave hope to thousands of Christmas travellers pre-booked on TAP flights. The Economy Minster said after a meeting with the TAP multi-trade union group that he will know on Monday if his proposals have been accepted and whether the planned four day strike can be averted. Pires de Lima has proposed the creation of a working group to examine the concerns of TAP staff. A further announcement is possible over the weekend..