Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Monarch Explorer goes offcourse

As Gibraltar celebrated the National Day weekend, Monarch Airlines were busy telling their entire customer base that Gibraltar was part of Spain! Don't worry if you missed it, they will be telling all their customers who fly with them in the near future too!

They chose this weekend to send out their a promotional email, which contained a link to access the electronic version of the latest issue of their inflight magazine "Explorer".

Within the magazine there is a section on all the James Bond film locations - that can be reached on the Monarch route network. [Starts page 58.]

They are numbered, and after initially drawing the ultracool '007' place in the list, things then take a turn for the worst as Gibraltar is listed as "Gibraltar, Spain" - see the picture below:

Highly offensive on page 65!

So we have a British airline, flying between two British countries (Gibraltar and the UK) in an article about a fictional British secret agent, who visits British Gibraltar, and the airline has only been flying to Gibraltar for well over a decade, but the airline seems to think Gibraltar should be listed under 'Spain' - how ignorant, legally wrong and offensive can you get! [It should just be 'Gibraltar' or 'Gibraltar, Gibraltar' if your template insists upon having a country name and location.]

The article does make several other misleading statements, but none as bad as this.

It concludes by talking about St Micheal's cave. Personally I find it surprising they did mention St Michael's here, but didn't think to include it in another feature within the edition of the magazine called "Going Underground"

Pages 24-25 are entitled Going Underground.
Despite being a perfect opportunity to list either St Micheals, lower St Michaels, or perhaps the WW2 tunnels which have opened in recent years, there is no Gibraltar included. Instead we have a final place taken by Wookie Hole in the UK.

Monarch 'Explorer' seems to be a publication that doesn't know it's arse from it's elbow. And certainly doesn't know how to avoid offending loyal customers.

The magazine seems to be published on Monarchs behalf by Identity Incorporated Ltd [if you want your identity damaged, they seem to be the people to call!] Their contact details are:
Telephone: +44 1273 715 915
The editor is listed as: Gavin Newsham.

The main Monarch switchboard can be accessed:
0871 2250250 (calls cost 10p per minute plus network extras) 
Mon-Fri 09:00-17:00 (UK time)
They also have a webform here:
- I'd suggest the press office.


So we know what monarch have published. And that this has been emailed to their entire customer base, and will also be sitting in every seatback pocket.

What should they do to put it right? Ideally they would pulp the magazines and reprint.

At the very least Monarch should do all of the following:
- Immediately correct the online versions.
- Include a noticeable apology and correction message in the main body of their next email to the entire customer base.
- Print a prominent apology and correction message in the next printed issue of their magazine, and also the same issue as this next year.

That might start to put things right... but they also need to consider the fitness for office of Gavin Newsham as Editor, and whether Identity Incorporate can really be trusted with an aspect of their corporate image. It is inexcusable for an airline this familiar with Gibraltar to make such an elementary mistake.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Happy National Day 2012

As we celebrate National Day here in Gibraltar, with a sea of Red and White, in London two important Gibraltar flags are flying.

Firstly, in Whitehall the Gibraltar flag is flying above the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as can been seen in this picture from Foreign Secretary William Hague's twitter stream:


From now on the national flags of British Overseas Territories will be flown from the FCO on their national day or other significant days.

Sadly however, 10th September 2012 is probably not the best day for flag spotters to notice the flag, with the whole of london awash with flags for the Olympics Team GB and Paralympics GB parade.

However, any viewers watching the parade live on television (it is being shown on the BBC and on SkyNews), would not have missed Gibraltars own London 2012 olympian Gerogina Cassar proudly waving a large Gibraltar flag from *onboard* the float carrying the Rhythmic Gymnastics team which she competed as part of.

Best picture I can find so far online is this one, although the flag is sadly not wide to camera at this time:

While it might not be fisible that clearly in that picture, people have reported sightings as the watched the parade from as far affield as Hong Kong. (Anyone further away watching live?).

These two special flags will join the many other Gibraltar flags flying today. Including of course the one outside Gibraltar House, the London office of the Government of Gibraltar, located at 150 The Strand - and on todays parade route!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Bye Bye Baby, bmibaby Goodbye

As many in Gibraltar settled down to watch the Jessie J / UB40 megaconcert at Victoria Stadium last night, at the airport the last ever bmibaby flight to Gibraltar was turning around to head back to East Midlands Airport (EMA) for the final time.

The route commenced on the 31st March this year.

At that time bmi group (of which baby is the LCC [low cost carrier] element) was owned by Lufthansa Group, themselves having relativly recently acquired it from previous long term owener Sir Micheal Bishop.

Strugling to turn around the bmi group as the world suffered a financial downturn, LH Group put it up for sale. Finally reaching an agreement with British Airways owner IAG (International Consolidated Airlines Group) - which was after the valuable Heathrow slots used by the full service carrier 'bmi' (British Midland International).

Under the terms of the deal, the premium paid for bmi group would be substantially reduced if Lufthansa were not able to find a buyer for the 'bmibaby' and 'bmi regional' subsidiares. LHg were unable to find buyers, so the entirty of bmi group was sold as one (at a substantially reduced price).

Having no desire for the 'regional' or 'baby' elements, the subsidiaries were again put up for sale. BA/IAG sucessfully found a buyer for bmi regional, which was sold to a Aberdeen based group of investors.

bmibaby, which operated out of airports which were not generally slot restricted and used a fleet of predominatly leased 737 aircraft (of the older, less cost efficient variety) probably had most value as a brand! But in the LCC world, customers are usually driven by headline prices, so brands don't attract much value for any loyalty factor.

Unable to find a buyer for baby, it was annouced in early May that all bmibaby operations would finish at the end of the peak summer season in September.

It is a mark of confidence in the only recently launched route to Gibraltar Airport, that flights would continue until the company itself stopped operations. Many other bmibaby routes were pulled immdiatly with a just a couple of weeks notice.

Due to the flight schedule to Gibraltar Airport, the final flight flown was on Saturday, 8th Septemeber. No flight was scheduled for Sundays, and today the entire baby operation comes to a close.

Mainline bmi operations are being merged into British Airways operations at London Heathrow, giving even greater choice for BA passengers (including thouse flying on the BA service from Gibraltar).

Passengers wishing to fly direct to the midlands will of course be able to make use of the Monarch Airlines new service to Birmingham Airport which begins in spring next year. Birmingham Airport is far better connected for public transport users than East Midlands Airport, so that is a plus.

As we celebrate national day tomorrow, do spare a thought for thouse bmibaby staff who now face the challenge of finding new employment in these tough times. Hopefully other airlines will expand into the space and take them on.