Why do we make it so hard for our airline passengers?

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Without putting too fine a point on it, they are not very pleasant people. Indeed, they are downright nasty on occasions, and Herself usually dismisses them from conversations by suggesting that the good bit about the fact that they are married to each other is that it stops them from lousing up two other people’s lives. As she succinctly puts it, they are absolutely made for each other.

I feel much the same way after reading about the unseemly, not to mention damaging to our tourism industry, spat between Jersey Airport and Flybe – a pair absolutely made for each other if ever I saw one.

The sad fact of the matter is that while these two outfits were arguing like a couple of ten-year-olds about whose football it was that broke the window, thousands of their customers were forced to queue outside the departures hall while staff from other unaffected airlines tried to sort out where their passengers were. Lucky it wasn’t chucking it down, because had it been there might well have been a riot

I know I’m only a simple country boy, but it seems to me that this domestic dispute, family tiff, call it what you will, has as its cause that for which this small rock is getting a dreadful reputation – a religion which decrees that its followers worship at the golden altar of greed.

On the one hand you have an airline which seems to pride itself on sheltering behind the small print of its deal with its passengers which includes credit card fees for each passenger on each leg of a single booking and excess baggage charges which could well make its customers wish they’d popped into a post office on the way to the Airport and sent their suitcases home by parcel post.

On the other hand you have the administration of a States department – let’s not forget that although we no longer have a Harbours and Airport Committee, the Airport is still publicly owned – which has so drastically reduced in size a fine, airy and comfortable area, in which departing passengers could check in and then enjoy time spent with those seeing them off, to something akin to conditions in which battery hens are reared.

And both outfits have done this in pursuit of money – money which, if there are many more miserable occasions like that reported recently, they have precious little hope of getting because there surely must be a diminishing number of tourists with a recession-hit diminishing amount of cash in their pockets who are prepared to put up with this Third World way of doing business.

As for Flybe’s chief apologist suggesting that coincidentally the chaos came just a day after the official opening of the redeveloped departures hall ‘with a huge reduction in the waiting area and the next day we have people queuing outside the building’ – does he think everyone is stupid bar him?

The area Ian Taylor’s company had available to handle their passengers on this occasion was precisely the same as they had a week, a month and almost certainly a year earlier. It was an official opening, not the first day of operation, Mr Taylor.

As for the extremely thinly veiled threat implicit in his ‘it is very unfortunate to say the least that Jersey Airport has chosen to make accusations against its biggest customer’ statement, does that somehow make it desirable for the Island of Jersey (rather than just one airline thinking solely of itself, it appears) to tolerate having thousands of its guests queuing outside an airport just because neither Flybe nor the Airport can get their act together?

I doubt very much whether former Harbours and Airports presidents (or their counterparts at Tourism) would have put up with this sort of nonsense. Heads would have either been banged together or they would have rolled. What a shameful image we portray these days.

I see that the Jersey Hospitality Association (they used to be the Hotel and Guesthouse mob when Noah was a boy) are offering a number of courses in their training programme and I applaud their initiative, although I know the venture is not a new one.

However, and it’s a big however, I see also that each course tutor is fluent in the language specified – Polish, English and Portuguese are listed – and examination papers will also be provided in those languages.

Sorry, I may have missed something here, and I’ve been off my customary helpings of calvados since slipping on Herself’s newly mown lawn, but aren’t we an English-speaking crowd over here and aren’t most of those who visit on holiday English speaking also?

This isn’t a racist comment. This column was advocating votes for all Island residents and not just the British when the politically correct pinkos who are likely to criticise me were probably still in nappies. It is simply a practical one.

How on earth will we achieve the sort of assimilation into the wider community of those who choose to live and work here but for whom English is not their first language if we remove at every step the principal incentive to learn what is by far the most common spoken here?

If I had a job working behind the bar in my mate’s restaurant in Avranches, I doubt I’d hold it for long if I didn’t speak, or try to speak, French.

AND finally … No doubt I’ll get it in the neck from my ‘God Bless America’ critics, but there can be few things more barbaric than postponing a man’s execution for a week because those appointed to kill him couldn’t find a vein large enough to take the lethal needle. The man was sentenced before one of that lot in the Big House was even born. The land of the free indeed.

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