Notes From The Margin

April 9, 2008

To The New Airport Board… Can We Have Luggage Trolleys Please?

We noted a news story in the paper recently about the new board of directors at the Grantley Adams airport taking up office.

THE NEW Grantley Adams International Airport Board will be working to improve Barbados’ tourism product.

Chairman of GAIA Inc., Rawle Brancker, said “the airport is a very integral part of the tourism product that is Barbados”.

“We will improve upon what we’ve met at the airport and work towards enhancing it and strive for the excellence that is required to make Barbados’ tourism product always No. 1,” he added, during a brief interview recently.

The airport falls under minister of public works and international transport Mr. John Boyce, however Mr. Richard Sealy as minister of tourism will have more than a little influence we are sure. WE on the margin have one request.

Can we please have luggage trolleys like an airport in the REAL world?

Marginal

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April 4, 2008

Beachfront Development In Barbados, A Look Into The Future…

Now that the dust has had a chance to settle, we on the margin have been reflecting on the sale of Cheffette Holetown. At $40 Million for the site Cheffette would have taken the offer. How many years of profit is that from the Restaurant? Further that’s enough money that they could build a second restaurant nearby and still have money left over. As a business deal this is fairly straight forward, Cheffette got an offer that was simply too good to turn down and that is that.

From an economic point of view, the Holetown site in condos will contribute more to the economy than it would as Cheffete. Certainly it would be part of the foreign exchange earning sector rather than being a user of foreign exchange. Economically this is good for Barbados as well.

However one of the very few remaining windows to the sea will close when condos go up on the site. Locals will have to go in either at the Holetown Police Station (the old Pizza House restaurant) or go all the way up past Sandy Lane to access the beach. Heading south after that we believe the next opportunity for beach accesss is Paynes Bay.

Now we on the Margin can’t argue with Condos, but we do have a specific issue with beach development. The development of a condo project allows the developer to make his money back quickly, with relatively little risk. A hotel means that the developer takes the business risk and all of the headaches that come with running a hotel. So if you are a developer, a condo is lower risk for a higher return and an extremely quick payback period. This is why hotels are closing for condos, we on the margin doubt that anything the new administration does will change this. (Despite what Mr. Loveridge says)

The other factor at work here is that there’s only so much beach front land in Barbados. The simple law of supply and demand means that prices for land on the coast will skyrocket in the face of huge demand fed from outside of the island. Hence we can hear about $40 million being paid for a relatively small piece of land. Remember all of those little chattel houses in the Garden in St. James? Little gold mines each one of them.

Now because the land costs are skyrocketing developers need to do two things 1. increase the value of each condo unit and 2. increase the number of units on the lot. This means that development along the beach is going to be high value, and is going to maximise the land use (so much for beach access for locals) and further is going to go up and up and up. This results in what we are seeing at Paynes Bay in St. James where the people on the land side of highway one stop seeing the sun around 3.00pm in the afternoon each day.

If you watch the BTA advertisement above it talks about

“…an island that hasn’t been homogenised and supersized and commercialised away from even being Caribbean anymore”

While these words are being said images of high rises next to the beach are being shown.

Ironic isn’t it?

We think that there is a need for a policy intervention by Government that puts the brakes on this form of development. Now this will have to be done with a light touch otherwise we run the risk of killing the goose that laid the golden egg. One possibility is restricting future high rise structures to the land side of the road. We are not saying no to development of the coast, we are simply saying if we continue as we are going now we will end up being one of those islands that no one wants to go to. The economics of it are inexorable.

Now is the time for an enlightened policy response.

Marginal

March 28, 2008

Ghanaian Government Will Charter Plane To Fly Ghanaian’s Home!

Tracking a story out of Ghana this morning that the Government of Ghana will charter an aircraft to bring their countrymen home.

Government has committed over 12 million dollars to charter a plane to fly home about 50 stranded Ghanaians who travelled to Barbados last month in search of greener pastures. A Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Co-operation and NEPAD, Dr Charles Brempong-Yeboah, who disclosed this to the Ghana News Agency in Accra said ironically the Ghanaians have paid between GHc 4,000 and GHc10,000 each to travelling agents to get to Barbados for a two-week stay.

“The Ghanaians who got to that country with the hope of crossing over to the US, Canada and other developed countries for greener pastures have been captured on Barbados Television networks begging for alms.”

Originally 146 people, including 46 Nigerians were stranded in Barbados but some managed to cross over to Trinidad and Tobago. Dr. Brempong-Yeboah described the situation as very embarrassing to Ghana, explaining that, those Ghanaians could have stayed at home with the huge amounts of money they paid to the agents to do profitable business at home.

He stressed: “Any small businesses they had started in Ghana would have grown by now.”
This really should have been a great thing for both Barbados and Ghana, right now its just an embarrassment.
Marginal
Marginal

March 21, 2008

As The Waves Subside, Reports Come In….

As the large waves subside, reports of damage are coming in from across the Caribbean. Thankfully in most cases it does not appear to be severe and at this point there is only one fatality being reported (in Barbados)

Here’s the story so far….

Barbados: One person drowned, damage to several boats. Harbour operations disrupted for the day. We passed the Harbour today and several cruise ships were docked so we can assume port operations are back to normal. In a couple of places along the west coast the sea has over run the coastal road depositing sand but no significant damage is reported.

Trinidad: Lifeguards were kept busy at Maracas and Las Cuevas beaches in the north of Trinidad, however beaches remained open and no significant damage was reported. Lifeguards made at least one rescue, however no drownings reported.

Tobago

Huge waves pounded Tobago beaches that were closed

Fishermen still ventured out and reported good fishing despite the high seas.
St. Lucia
In St. Lucia several hotels reported that water had entered areas of the hotel. Also fishing boats were taken to safe harbour….
British Virgin Islands.
There are reports of some flooding with debris on roads but no major damage seems to have been reported yet.
Cuba
Cuba appears to have been quite badly battered, with 800 people being evacuated from coastal areas, the waves did considerable damage.
Puerto Rico
There are reports of some coastal flooding and minor damage in some tourist areas.
Because of the Good Friday bank holiday, news reporting (particularly on the net) has been particularly lax today. We have yet to see much news coming out of the OECS so it is likely that tomorrow we will see fresh information. Notwithstanding that, it would appear that with the possible exception of Cuba (and the drowning in Barbados) there has not been any major damage as a result of the waves.
Marginal

March 11, 2008

Barbados Tries For CAT1 Status -Is There Another Airline Setting Up?

In the wake of the Airone story, we noted an article in todays Nation about an upcoming audit for the island.

 

BARBADOS’ AIRPORT IS 99.1 per cent ready, as its review for Category 1 status approaches.This is according to director of Civil Aviation Anthony Archer.The island is now in its final stages of qualifying for the rating by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), members of which will be coming to Barbados within another two months to do an audit….

The rating will enable Barbados to give permission to people to start up airlines here in Barbados and while applications are pending, it makes little sense to sign off on them now.”They can’t go to North America. So when we get the Category 1 then we would be able to deal with that. My department deals with the operational and certification but the other part of my ministry deals with the economic regulations, so they will decide whether or not they will get the permits to travel to the various destinations,” said Archer.

It would seem that the Nation got the story wrong as usual, from what we have heard the Category ranking has less to do with the airport than the Government’s regulatory oversight. What is interesting, is Mr. Archer’s statement that there are TWO proposals that they are looking at. We can assume that one is AirOne (currently on hold if the Irish Independant is correct) so who’s the other one? Does LIAT have a competitor waiting in the wings?
Interesting times….
Marginal

March 10, 2008

Is Rihanna Ambassador Material?

Filed under: Barbados,Barbados Media,Caribbean,culture,entertainment,Government,Media,Rihanna,tourism — notesfromthemargin @ 9:34 pm

We came across a thought provoking article in the South Florida Times which was talking about the recent award of “Cultural Ambassador” status to Rihanna by Barbados. The article makes some thought provoking reading.

However the author then goes on to list possible downsides….
While the article concludes positively, we got to thinking that it ignores a salient point. At the moment Rihanna is an ambassador for Barbados whether she has the honorary title or is just a citizen. She is the ONLY entertainer on the world stage publicly identified with the country, and is in fact quite often the only point of reference that many people have.  If you talk to people who market Barbados they indicate that Rihanna has introduced Barbados to a range of people who had never heard of the island before. As a result of this we are inextricably tied to Ms. Fenty.
We could do a whole lot worse for an ambassador… and more to the point Rihanna recognises this tie and seems to embrace it with relish. (She didn’t have to big up the island in her acceptance speech) So yes there are risks in honoring a 20 year old, but we are taking that risk whether we accord Ms. Fenty the ceremonial title or not.
Marginal

March 7, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Airone ON HOLD……

tracking a story out of Ireland this morning….

Plans by a number of Irish businessman including Digicel vice-president Leslie Buckley and former rugby international Brendan Mullin to launch a new Caribbean airline later this year have been grounded, the Irish Independent has learned.

It is understood a number of issues have led to the decision, including the recent surge in oil prices and the failure of the Jamaican government to give the airline a licence.

The decision was also taken against the backdrop of the current turmoil in financial markets and the collapse of US consumer confidence.

The original venture, which had been dubbed the “Ryanair of the Caribbean”, was to launch the airline in May 2008 covering the Caribbean as well as flights linking the region to the US and Latin America.

Since then, oil prices have shot up from about the $70 dollar a barrel level to spike close to $106 yesterday.

In addition, concerns about the subprime market in the US have had a significant negative affect on US consumer confidence.

While the decision by the Jamaican government not to give the licence to Airone pending the privatisation of Air Jamaica was taken earlier this year, the company had been looking at an alternative plan for Barbados, but that has also been put on hold.

It had already began recruiting staff for a Barbados base of operations.

Future

Informed sources said yesterday the company is “continuing to assess the situation” in relation to future plans for Airone.

It is understood about $30m (€20.4m) had been raised for the venture. Other business players on board are Ian Burns, the president of Wanderers rugby club, and Peter Delaney, the former director of operations at Guinness Peat Aviation.

Mr Mullin, who left Quinlan Private to set up public and private equity firm Quantum Investment Capital, recently joined NCB’s private wealth division and Quantum has backed into that business as a result.

BJM Nominees and Mr Buckley are the main shareholders in the company, with the remaining 22pc made up of promoters and cash investors.

At the time of the launch last year, the company confirmed it was positioning itself as a low-cost carrier.

“We are here to establish a headquarters and a home from which we will grow to over 25 planes spread over seven bases within the Caribbean and the Americas,” the company said in its business plan.

Airone Ventures was promising fares as low as 80pc below current charges available from competitors flying to Jamaica and other Caribbean destinations.

– Ailish O’Hora Business News Editor

March 5, 2008

Sir Charles Williams on Apes Hill and Agriculture

 

A couple of days ago we were listening to the mid day call in programme and heard Barbadian construction magnate Sir Charles (COW) Williams call in. After he had made his point, the moderator David Ellis took the opportunity to ask him about the progress of his Apes Hill project.

Never one to miss an opportunity for promotion Sir Charles proceeded to wax lyrically about the great success that Apes Hill is becoming. Apparently the sales of lots has been so great it has forced them to accelerate their business plan to keep up with demand.

Then Sir Charles made an insightful point, when Apes Hill was a dairy farm, it employed approximately 12 persons at minimum wage, in its current state of construction it’s employing close to 400 persons (we were driving so we didn’t have the opportunity to write this down so if the numbers are slightly off don’t scream for our scalps) and those 400 are employed at much higher salaries.  One can reasonably assume that as the project completes it will occupy much more than 12 persons.

Now this opens an interesting point, is moving land out of agriculture necessarily a bad thing for society? Obviously there are limits on how much of this you can do but, is society better off with Apes Hill in agriculture or with it in tourism and golf courses? Similar questions could be asked about Royal Westmoreland.

It is unfortunate that there wasn’t an opportunity for this point to be discussed more on the call in programme.

Marginal

Irish Backed Airline Startup Airone/Project Horizon Advertising For Pilots…

The Irish backed airline Airone Ventures is advertising for pilots in this month’s Flight Magazine under the name Project Horizon. We have noted a growing level of chatter about this airline in the aviation forums on the net…

PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 16:42:09 Post subject: Reply with quote

I still am amazed that this topic is not causing more ‘ripples’ on the website and in the Eastern Caribbean!!
Anyway here is ad from Flight International…I quote:Launching Low Fares in the CaribbeanProject Horizon is an exciting start up low cost airline based in Barbados. As the first Caribbean low fares airline, Project Horizon plans to become a major player in the region developing a number of bases by combining innovative strategies along with the quick roll out of exciting new routes from our home base in beautiful Barbados. Using dependable Boeing aircraft and an experienced team, Project Horizon will provide indisputably low fares, superior reliability, innovative products and services and a distinct choice of non-stop routes. If you would like to be involved in this dynamic environment, we currently have a number of opportunities for flight crew. So what are you waiting for? Launch your career with us!Direct Entry Captains – Ref. 001The successful candidates will have:
ICAO license with current type rating on B737EFIS Aircraft
Current Class 1 Medical
Minimum 4500 hours total, with 1000 hours in command on type
Captains applying for Flight Instructor positions require minimum of 500 hours as instructors on type
Proficiency in English

First Officers – Ref. 002

Requirements:
Type-rated on B737EFIS. Current ICAG. Commercial/IR license
Minimum 2000 hours, total with 500 hours on type
Proficiency in English

We are also seeking suitable candidates for the following positions:

Regulatory Director Ref: 003
Materials Manager ReI: 004
Technical Services Manager Ref: 005
Maintenance Operations Coordinator Ref: 006.
Quality Assurance Inspector Ref: 007
Flight Operations Officer Ref: 006
Crew Planner Ref: 009
Crew Scheduler Ref: 010
Quality & Flight Salety Officer ReI: 011

If you enjoy a challenge, are interested in flying or working with Boeing 737 EFIS aircraft and in joining a dynamic, productive and exciting startup in the Caribbean, please send you curriculum vitae to our recruitment team at pilots@caribbeanjobs.com
To meet our aggressive growth plans, non-type-rated Pilots will be accepted from January 2009.

Flight International 26 February – 3 March 2008

It would seem that the rumours are true.

Also in related news, Barbados has signed an open skies agreement with Canada which will help the island attract more business of this type.

see:

Canada announces Open Skies agreement with Barbados

Marginal

Also

Irish Airline Headquartering in Barbados?

Jamaica Drops The Ball – Irish Competition For LIAT – Coming Soon To Grantley Adams?

Irish Competition For LIAT?

March 2, 2008

Troubling Developments In Grenada

On of the more troubling stories to cross the Margin’s radar recently is this story out of Grenada where from what is being said it would seem that police were caught spying on an opposition party planning meeting.

 Grenada’s opposition party has accused the Keith Mitchell administration of spying on a private meeting of its executive and wants Scotland Yard to investigate the allegation.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) claimed that a police officer was caught secretly recording a closed-door meeting and pointed fingers at the Prime Minister’s New National Party (NNP) as the ones behind the move.

But the NNP has denied the spying allegation.

Of all of the islands of the english speaking Caribbean, Grenada has had one of the most erratic relationships with democracy. Having gone through years of mis rule under Gairy, the Revolution and invasion (or intervention) by the United States military.  In spite of all of the foregoing, Grenada has developed today  into a flourishing and stable democracy.

For the coming election on the Spice Isle the stakes are higher than ever, for the first time in a while it looks as if there may be a real chance of the Government changing.  On the night of the Barbados election we made the statement that the true test of democracy is when the result of the election is accepted by supporters of all parties the winners and the losers.  If anything is allowed to cast doubt on the integrity of the electoral process in Grenada the consequences may be significant.

On an island with Grenada’s bloody history, democracy is too fragile to take anything for granted.

Marginal

 

 

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