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Old 24th Nov 2004, 12:22
  #18 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne UK
Age: 63
Posts: 132
Whilst there is no question that the management of the club has been deficient, the airport authority must share some of the responsibility.

Whilst it is of course true that Newcastle int Airport is a multi-million pound resource, which is made available for PPLs and training, most of the fixed costs associated with this operation arise out of the needs of the commercial sector e.g. ATCO, 2.3KM runways, 5 different approach aids, multi million pound terminal buildings shopping arcades, high level fire cover, security etc.

The fixed costs associated with the GA operation which are essential to their operation are frankly minimal.

It is therefore unfair and unreasonable to expect GA to bear their share of the cost of this operation on a like for like basis, when most of what is there is not necessary.

The airport might have an argument if there was any evidence at all to support the view that GA hindered the commercial operations at Newcastle, but this is simply not the case. GA operations always take second priority to commercial ops, and trainees have to pay the price of the additional holding time both on the ground and in the air, in addition to the landing and navigation charges.

The fact is that GA slots in around the commercials in spare capacity, and indeed often helps controllers maintain their skills in ATC procedures such as SRAs, which the commercials are unwilling to do because of turnaround pressure.

In other words there has been a happy synergy between commercial ops, GA/training and ATC for many years at NCL.

It is sad therefore that the blinkered view of an airport management structure based upo brutal accountants, should have contributed to the downfall of one of aviations oldest institutions. Three years ago, the aero club could not have racked up this debt with the airport, because they did not pay such extortionate charges!

I say again, the management of the aero club has been sadly deficient, largely because it was done by (mainly) well meaning amateur volunteers. Perhaps a happy compromise could be reached whereby some of the management skills available in the airport could help get the aero club back onto a sound operational basis.

Impounding the aircraft achieves little for anyone. Two of the aircraft impounded have prior charges on them from loan companies and the Inland revenue, so the airport will not get anything from these, and the remaining equity is unlikely to settle their debt. It effectively stops all significant revenue to the club, particularly pre-Christmas, which is usually a cash rich time for the club, with present of vouchers being very popular.

The airport should write off the debt, re-structure their charges at a sensible level, and work with the aero club by providing business support, to help them get back to a viable operating position. That would be in everyones interests.

So come on Mr Parkin, why not join the aero club in a joint venture to try and avoid this tragedy?
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