Three Spanish high-flyers

Over the weekend I received three reports of high-flying happenings involving Spain. One was rather questionable!

The three happenings were the triumph of the Barcelona football team last night (Saturday 28 May), the uprising of a (mainly) youth movement in Spain and the very late departure of a Spanish business jet last Friday night. I will deal with them in that order (saving the worst for last!).

The final of the European Champions League last night was certainly appreciated by all fans of football. Although being born in the North of England, I cannot really be a fan of Manchester United, having been born in the county on the opposite side of the Pennines. I was thus (almost) neutral! I felt that the performance of the venerable Welshman Ryan Giggs and his colleagues, in front of numerous celebrities, came up a bit short, thus offering them no satisfaction. The Spanish players, on the other hand, showed that rapid movements (passes), followed by a direct thrust at the goal, could bring the match to a proper climax.

The movement of protest against the current Spanish Government by large groups of mainly young protesters has been likened to the Arab Spring: perhaps an exaggeration, but at least not subject to savage repressive measures. Given the unemployment statistics for young people in Spain, plus the widespread feeling that the political parties have been too much in cahoots with big business (whose leaders, of an older generation, were about as bad as ones in many other countries but remained rich) it is easy to see why this movement has taken off. Being a cynicist, I do wonder how many rich people in Spain have already moved their money out of the country, to avoid high taxes and the possibiity of the Euro dropping substantially in value: the reports today that many Greeks have done exactly that, often choosing Swiss banks, is very worrying.

Finally, the third high-flyer: a small (up to 8 passengers) Cessna Citation 550 business jet. After coming to Geneva nearly three weeks ago, this aircraft took off at 11:52 pm last Friday night, 27 May. This is actually the eleventh takeoff this month of a business jet after 11pm, compared to only five of the regular scheduled airlines, thus showing that the operating companies and their clients are figuratively sticking up two fingers at OFAC, who request that airlines be very parsimonious about movements after 10pm. One law for the rich, one for the poor.

However, in looking to see who are the owners of this jet, there are some strange things about this late takeoff. The aircraft concerned, registered as EC-LBO, is owned and operated by a Spanish company called "Air Taxi and Charter International S.L.", based in Gerona, Spain. However, very unusually, this company appears to have no web site.

More curious is to be found on a site for access to European Union law, where there is the report of a commission which looks at the Community list of air carriers which are subject to an operating ban within the Community. In this report, dated 19 April 2011, there is the following comment relative to Spain :-

(23) The Commission invited AESA to provide further clarification on enforcement action concerning four other air carriers certified in Spain which had been identified by EASA as having poor SAFA results. AESA subsequently informed the Commission on 28 March 2011 that, following recent audits of Air Taxi and Charter International, and Zorex, significant safety discrepancies had been noted and, therefore, the procedure to suspend the AOCs of both air carriers had been initiated.

Of course, there may no longer be any problem, but it is curious that the aircraft came here and stayed for over two weeks. It is possible that the aircraft may have been here for a service, and may now be entirely airworthy, but it is highly unlikely that its passengers, if there were any, have been waiting here all this time. Remember also that if it did not have any passengers then it should not have been allowed to take off after 10pm at night.

Curious indeed!

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