“It can happen in hot countries…”

More difficulties at the City of Derry Airport, whose owner’s – Derry City Council – were recently given the go-ahead for the compulsory purchase of adjoining land. Yesterday an inbound flight, having been instructed to wait on a remote runway, found itself sinking into the tarmac after being made to wait for 30 minutes. The plane was eventually able to power out of the tarmac after the pilot got the passengers to disembark [and push? – Ed] Adds Interesting response from the SF Councillor, Gerry MacLochlainn, in this UTV report [just under half-way through report]

“What’s clear here is Council Committees aren’t the best bodies to be running an airport. You need a professional board of directors running a professional company that acts to commercial standards. The law only allowed us to do that in January. We will be putting that into place. We will establish the airport as a company with a professional board of director with the correct level of expertise in and you will see improvements in the airport coming from that.”

Which isn’t necessarily a problem in my view.. Although, isn’t he pre-empting that internal investigation? And is that a description of a [Local] Government Owned Company? A Go-Co? A “corporate profit making entity in its own right”? A prelude to back-door privatisation?

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  • The pilots’ chatroom [http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?t=287259], to which I have referred previously, has two comments so far:

    (1)

    Taxiways and aprons are weight-rated.
    Sounds like someone put a “heavy” where it shouldn’t have gone. Unless it was very warm there today.

    That sounds to me as if it’s a failure of HumanBrain Mk1, rather than anything more sinister.

    (2)

    Same story with Aegean Airlines B737 on a Nantes Airport taxiway. Sorry, it’s french..

    http://www.crash-aerien.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4502

    So it’s not some evil local plot.

  • Pounder

    Maybe not an evil plot, simply gross mis-management again.

  • Pounder @ 01:59 PM:

    Agreed: except there may be a couple of (barely) extenuating circumstances.

    The BBC do not tell us which aircraft First Choice were operating. They use Airbus 320s and 321s, Boeing 757s and 767s.

    Since the BBC report talks about 180 passengers, that implies an Airbus, fully loaded, though I find that news-item somewhat confused. The maximum take-off weight of a 320 can be as much as 77,000kg (from which we need to deduct the fuel load used from northern Spain). I make that up to 75 tons.

    What interests me is that Ryanair uses Boeing 737s (which are a ton or so heavier than 320s) into Eglinton, but only filling 140 seats of the 189 seats pending the airport improvements (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4186095.stm).

    On that basis, it’s cock-up time, but (in the long run) that’s not going to save the present management structure.

  • Pete Baker

    No-one suggested an evil local plot, Malcolm.. even if the response noted in the update to the original post might be seen to support such a conspiracy theory.

  • andy

    I may be being unfair but that was a surprisingly pragmatic view expressed by the SF guy

  • andy @ 01:47 PM:

    Without being partisan, I feel there is all-round good-eggery commonsense showing up across the six counties (with the usual exceptions).

    The facilites at City of Derry are pretty basic, which is to be expected in an airport of recent vintage, chequered history and rapid growth. It is going to need, obviously, considerable expense to develop further, to fulfil the requirements of the Northwest, and cope with the huge increase in tourist and other traffic the next few (peaceful) years are going to bring. Wait, just wait, till the stag-weekenders find Derry.

    My bottom line is that the Eglinton resource is too good and too important to let go. If it is necessary, then, get it out from under local government control, not necessarily by a sell-off, but perhaps by leasing. Make sure there are incentives for professional management to develop and upgrade.

    Then watch for the screams of abuse and pain from the competition.

  • protorious

    Derry as a Stag weekend destination? Hopeful thinking…

  • Gerry MacLochlainn

    This is an interesting discussion but I feel I should point out a few matters.
    Derry City Council have been committed to establishing Derry City Airport as a company for some years. It is not a new position. The law did not allow that to happen and required change which has now taken place.
    This is a sensible way to run a business but particularly to run a critical business like an airport – it is not a prelude to privatisiation.
    Councils in England and Wales run their airports through such companies and have managed some spectacular successes that have benefitted their communities.
    One of the most succesful airports in Britain is Manchester airport – a company owned by a consortium of councils. There are others.
    What is inappropriate is attempting to run an airport by a council committee.
    Think about it. A council committe can only meet after giving three days notice and even then its recommendations have to be cleared by a full council meeting at the end of the month. How do you deal with fast moving and critical situations that arise in business. This is not the same as waste or cleansing services of council – it is a business competing against other business that are not so encumbered.
    We have moved to deal with the crisis at Derry by giving the airport committee delegated powers so that it does not have to wait for weeks to have its decsions ratified by a full council meeting. But we are still bound by the rule which prevents us meeting until three days notice have passed.
    In order to run the business properly we have been determined to establish a company and to have the airport run efficiently and properly with appropriate levels of expertise.
    This will help us preserve this vital asset in public ownership for the benefit of the people of the North West of Ireland.