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Govt and GSD face off over Bilbao flights

The Gibraltar Government said on Tuesday that it knew of no “impediments” to the commencement of flights between the Rock and Bilbao this summer.

It was responding after the GSD called for clarification following reports in Spain that the airline did not yet have legal clearance for the service.

The GSD had questioned why Tourism Minister Vijay Daryanani “enthusiastically announced” the service given the lack of clarity on authorisation.

Mr Daryanani did not, in fact, announce the route, which was first revealed in a statement issued by the company itself, although it included a quote from the Minister welcoming the service.

In any event, the GSD said the reports in Spain, which cited anonymous Spanish diplomatic sources, “seriously put into question” the launch of the service.

The sources quoted in the reports were categorical in stating that there was no legal basis for the flights to commence between Bilbao and Gibraltar.

“We welcome increased airlinks from Gibraltar to other airports whether to the UK or beyond, but the Government needs to confirm what the state of play is with regards to this particular route,” said Damon Bossino, the shadow minister for tourism.

“The reports came out on Saturday and we have given the Government time to clarify the position but they have remained uncharacteristically silent.”

“If the reports are inaccurate, we are giving them the opportunity to clear the air, if they are correct it raises the fundamental question as to why the announcement has been made by the Government in advance of them being satisfied that all required authorisations were in place.”

“It would be incomprehensible that the Government should not have cleared such a crucial matter.”

But the Government played down the reports in the Spanish media and hit back at Mr Bossino.
“Mr Bossino appears to rely really very heavily on reports in the Spanish media as a basis on which to build his politics,” Mr Daryanani said.

“His politics of gloating at the first hint of a possibility that something positive for Gibraltar might hit a stumbling block would be damnable if the reports were indeed accurate.”

“The fact that his ‘sources’ are as misinformed as he is, only make his brand of politics even less palatable to anyone who genuinely holds the best interests of Gibraltar at heart.”

“As Minister of Tourism, I am happy to confirm that, whilst I am aware that the flights are not for sale online, I am not advised of any such impediments to the commencement of this service later this year and, I’m sure, will be informed of progress towards the delivery of these flights as and when they happen.”

“I’m happy to continue to work as hard as possible to point Gibraltar in the direction of a successful return to our former levels of tourist activity.”

“I will not be deterred nor discouraged by the unfortunately vacuous, uninformed and self-defeatist politics of my counterpart in Opposition.”

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