Thursday, February 28, 2013


I am amused and I guess bemused by the attempts by the Spanish media to find a negative linkage to Gibraltar even where one does not exist.

The latest case comes from El Economista and is written by Javier Nart who is an Abogado – so I better be careful in what I say.

Abogado Nart’s overall case may well be legitimate. He is firing at British Airways whose aircraft land and take off from our sacred soil but in this case that is neither here nor there.
Nart’s complaint is over the merger of Iberia with British Airways to form IAG with its linkage to the current Iberia strike.
Apparently the original idea was that Heathrow would be the platform for serving the West and Madrid’s airport, Barajas for the East. With the two airlines brought together their European destinations would be rationalized. Well that makes sense so far.
However Javi goes on to say that what was not explained to Iberia at the time of the merger was that British Airways was indeed a major airline but one with “plomo en las alas”.
Well I have to admit it is many a year since British Airways boasted of being the world’s favourite airline and when I do fly from Gibraltar BA would be my third choice after EasyJet and Monarch for a variety of reasons. Yet I have yet to experience “plomo en las alas”, which sounds more like Ryanair to me.
Anyway back to the good lawyer. The “plomo” is apparently the huge deficit of the British Airways pension plans that affect the viability of IAG and hence Iberia. Nart informs us that the shortfall in the accounts submitted in June 2010 was more than 4,550 million euros.
The argument therefore is that Iberia is now a prisoner of the British Airways Pension Fund and its activities are subordinate to those of the UK airline because it dominates IAG. Hence British Airways grows and Iberia shrinks.
Abogado Nart informs his readers that Spain cannot depend on British decisions on that country’s communications with Latin America. Iberia is a subordinate company and the lawyer questions whether the T4 terminal at Barajas will become London’s second airport? What he fails to add is that London Heathrow is owned by a consortium led by Ferrovial, so in effect is Spanish owned.
Nart goes on to argue that British Airways is actually a large pension fund, a complex insurance company that also runs an airline. He adds that the strike by Iberia workers from ground staff to pilots is not for better pay or privileges but for the very survival of the Iberian structure, its lines and its services. This the good legal beagle says means the Spanish Government is not facing an employment crisis in the airline industry but a real challenge to Spain’s relationship with America and the role of Barajas as an international hub.
Well the article is an interesting take on Spain’s airline industry and the bitterness felt in some quarters over the formation of IAG and the role of British Airways.
The title of Nart’s article is: “Iberia, otro Gibraltar”. Now back to the title of my own article: What’s Gibraltar got to do with it? Err, nothing! Well nothing other than the headline and Nart’s closing sentence which reads: “Si ya padecíamos un Gibraltar territorial y financiero, ahora tenemos un segundo aeronáutico.”
It requires the mind of a lawyer to take British Airways, Iberian and IAG, mix them up and come out with a dig at Gibraltar. Indeed Nart in his desperate attempt to find some damning linkage to Gibraltar has just crash landed. Or as Horace used to say down the Wig and Gown after a long day in court: “Solventur risu tabulae, tu missus abibis.”