Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The prancing of political geldings

Over the last week or so since the decision of Aer Lingus management to pull out of the Shannon Heathrow, we've witnessed the energetic prancing of political geldings, figures of local and national prominence, minister junior and senior and TDs new and old all giving it loads in front of the cameras and at public meetings but no sign that they will do anything in the Dail when it resumes. I think a vote of no confidence in Dempsey is certainly in order, and I would question the resolve of some of the mid-West TDs to exercise some basic follow through on this issue.

Good examples of the prancing ponies are Tony Killeen telling us that Aer Lingus will be feeling the pressure on the PR side of things - FYI they're pulling out Tony what does it matter to them what people down here think if they are no longer doing business here, Niall Collins telling us on PrimeTime that we should be stepping back. I haven't been too wildly impressed with the contributions of Pat Breen of FG either, taking almost all his time on PrimeTime before getting to the nub of the issue which is the connection to a hub which is what Heathrow is, this is not about getting to London, it is about getting to Heathrow.

This is what Minister Cullen (sure don't we miss him now!) had to say in 2005 about ensuring Irish consumers would have access to Heathrow post the government reducing its stake. So what were the options explored and why were they not proceeded with? Was someone misled here was it the minister or the public?

I'm surprised no one has made this comparison of journeys, say your intention is to get a flight in Heathrow on to some other location say for example Tokyo (I hear it is a bit of a backwater place that is transforming itself into an up and coming place of international business), you leave Castletroy to be in Shannon at least 1 hour before the flight which only takes under an one hour but you can allow about one hour to get from from Terminal 1 to your gate in another Terminal in Heathrow. Because in the current situiation with Aer Lingus doing a code share your luggage makes its own way across the airport, and you (the person travelling) are already checked through.So you arrive at the gate in good time and calm and collected all only 3 hours or so after you left the house.

In the new situation if you fly with RyanAir you will have to wait around and collect you luggage before moving off to the next Terminal but in this case you will be crossing London instead of justr crossing an airport with 3 train journeys from Stansted into Liverpool St, then the tube then the train from Paddington out to Heathrow. None of those changes is for the faint-hearted. I guess Dempsey is so used to have someone else carry his luggage for him that he doesn't remember what travel is like for the little people. And how long would you need to allow for you to cross from Gatwick/Stansted to Heathrow 3 hours allowance wouldn't be crazy (2 hours would be cutting it very fine indeed) and remember you have to be at the check-in desk 2 hours before departure as unlike the existing model you aren't already checked through. So you would be presenting yourself at the gate 7 hours after you left the door of house. Some time difference there I'm sure you will agree.

I would suggest that local business should sponsor a trip by two people accompanied by the press, with video capability to demonstrate the different paths they will have to take to get to a flight going from Heathrow to Tokyo. They would be two very different journeys I reckon and a good example of why telling people that they can still get to London is patronising.

I do know from talking to some folks at the college in UL that one big problem would be that staff use Heathrow as a location for meetings with people from other European universities. As it is a hub it is much easier to a few people to fly there and have the meeting and fly home without ever leaving the airport than to be flying to another location and staying overnight some place.

For students in UL, Euramus in particular I can foresee quite a lot of problem with access and this must move UL down the pecking order for choice locations. And speaking more internationally it will be a problem for those coming from Asia particularly China which is viewed a as a huge stragegic opportunity for Ireland.

I would also think that the decentralisation of the Overseas development staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs must now be seriously at risk. You can hardly move the staff to a place that doesn't have direct access to one of the major airline hubs.

1 comment:

lette said...

Not only that but where the hell is Bertie??!! no voice for the Head government members in this case, or at least very little!