ForArgyll.com: Argyll's online broadsheet.

It would be good to see something positive …

Comment posted Argyll and the Isles hits warp speed by Paul Keegan.

It would be good to see something positive come out of all the hoo ha, though I have my doubts with A&BC representatives involved

Brian Keating has got it spot on with the airports issue. The operation of the publicly owned airports in Argyll, whether HIAL or A&BC, is a huge drag on moving forward with aviation tourism.

In 1995/96 North Connel Airfield was attracting on average 50 visiting aircraft per year. In 1997 my company did a deal with ABC (all the risk and costs being on us of course)to day to day manage and promote the airfield. I encouraged them to change the name of the facility to Oban Airport to give it a better identity, which they did. By 2004,using industry knowledge and a genuine understanding of the market, the airport was attracting 2500 a/c per year bringing high spending self fly tourist from all over the UK and Europe. In 2002 & 2005 it was voted Airfield of The Year in the Flyer Magazine annual awards. In 2006 ABC (thinking they had a sure winner on their hands) took over the operation of the airport, spent £8M on facility, employed 11 staff and have now lost over 60% of the existing business ! They’re now on their third manager in five years, none of whom had/have the faintest idea how to operate a small GA airport and the use of the facility is still plummeting. The only new user they have attracted to Oban Airport is the one they pay £1M a year to fly from it under a PSO contract. And ABC’s only solution to the disaster is to reduce the opening hours and severely restrict out of hours use of the airport. They clearly don’t understand the law of diminishing returns.

The same politicians who were responsible for the airport fiasco are also in charge of the council’s roads…

A fair definition of stupidity is to keep doing the same actions over and over and expect a different result. ABC should stick to properly managing it’s statutory obligations and leave all else to those who know their business.

Recent comments by Paul Keegan

  • Audit Scotland identify Council’s leadership and culture as single risk area requiring scrutiny
    Infrastructure – … “Infrastructure and asset base is not being used or managed efficiently or effectively.”
    That is a gross understatement ! The council have spent nearly £25M on their flagship transport project, Argyll Air Services, over the last 7 years and confidently forecast that it would produce an income of £530K per annum. The best year so far was 2012 when it produced a grand total of £34K income. Yet, the director and his managers insist to anyone they can corner that the project is a great success. How we survive at all with such gross inefficency is a wonder.
  • Decoding helicopters
    db – Ah if it were only true…we are getting some but we are a bit too far north. Prestwick is the main JET fuelling winner.

    jean k – the red EC 135 is operated by Bond Air Services on behalf of the Northern Lighhouse Board (NLB) and only flies NLB people on lighthouse servicing.

  • Demand up yet again at Highlands and Islands regional airports
    Simon, apologies for the delay in replying.

    db has given an accurate description of the effect of the fence.

    There was not one a/c lost to Oban airport by the fence. There is only the Islander a/c that uses Oban and requires a licensed runway and it only needs 500 metres which is all that it is available to it at the Coll and Colonsay runways.

    The fence was put there as a visual symbol of the deception that the council used when obtaining the Oban airport license. They told the CAA they controlled an area adjacent to the runway when in fact it formed part of the whole area they had leased out to the Argyll Aero Club nearly ten years previously. At no time did the council request the use or the return of the area they required; this was despite subsequent email evidence showing they knew the area was leased to the club and they needed the area to license the runway – before the application to the CAA.

    It is a criminal offence to provide false information on an airport license application.

    The council then tried to do a land grab on the area one morning and at 05:00 removed over 20 trees that had been planted to protect the club’s hangar from westerly winds. This was just to show that they (the council)had control. The club erected the fence thereafter. When the matter inevitably went to court (as that seems to be the only way to redress ABC bullying) the Sheriff said in regard to the club’s lease that it was an absurdity of the English language to construe the council’s interpretation of the lease. The council lost dismally and inevitably had to pay all the legal expenses and compensation to the club to the resolve the matter.

    The fence was removed nearly two years ago and still the number of aircraft using Oban airport continues to fall.

  • Demand up yet again at Highlands and Islands regional airports
    I prepared a response paper to a report that went to the Community Planning Group last week on Oban Airport; I believe this is the meeting that Neil has referred to. Cllr. Glen-Lee had copies made of my paper for distribution but then decided it should not be discussed. This was a pity as it put the touted “success of Oban Airport in context.

    When the Argyll Air Services project was voted on by the council it was on the basis of a projected income from the three airports of Oban, Coll and Colonsay of some £530K in Year 2 of operation, in Year 5 the total income for the three airports amounted to £34K yet executive director Mactaggart and his staff claim the project as a success.

    Marketing is not the problem for Oban Airport it is focus. At one time the facility was well known, award winning and busy, it is now notorious and deserted. Under council management Oban has lost over 55% of the visiting aircraft it previously had.

    I can make available the council report and my response to it to anyone who wishes.

    On the Newsroom’s comments with regard to the Chris Jones Gyroplane event planned for January, I must take responsibility for the low key approach as it was me who planned it. The prime purpose was continuation Gyro’ training for myself and a few other diehards. As the weather is so cold for open cockpit flying in January we didn’t want to put any newbie off so we gave it limited coverage. As it turned out due to the strong easterly winds and very cold weather it didn’t happen but we are looking to try again in early summer. I am grateful for Lynda’s offer of promotion and I’ll personally pay for her flight!

  • Breslin pulls the pin on SNP group’s self-destruction – are there more resignations to come?
    They certainly do and as yet there is no sign of the veracity of advice given changing – and all to keep a pet project going.

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