Category: National

All Monarch airlines flights cancelled as airline ceases trading

CAA launches flying programme to bring 110,000 customers back to UK in response to Monarch Airlines administration

Monarch Airlines has ceased trading with immediate effect, leaving 110,000 customers overseas and in the region of 300,000 future bookings cancelled
Government has asked CAA to charter more than 30 aircraft to bring back to the UK Monarch Airlines customers currently overseas
Monarch customers in the UK and yet to travel: don’t go to the airport.  There will be no more Monarch flights
Monarch customers abroad: everyone due to fly in the next fortnight will be brought back to the UK at no cost to them. There is no need to cut short your stay
All affected customers should check new website monarch.caa.co.uk for more information

All future Monarch Airlines bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled following a decision by the company’s board to stop trading.  This is the UK’s largest ever airline to enter administration.
As all of Monarch’s flights due to depart from the UK have now been cancelled, customers should not go to their UK airport.  Affected customers still in the UK should check monarch.caa.co.uk for further information.
Due to the unprecedented number of UK consumers currently overseas who are affected by this airline administration, the CAA and Government are securing a fleet of more than 30 aircraft, flying to more than 30 airports, to bring 110,000 people back to the UK at no cost to them. This is the equivalent of operating, at very short notice, one of the UK’s largest airlines.
The CAA has a dedicated website monarch.caa.co.uk, which is the best source of advice and information for affected customers, and a 24 hour helpline (0300 303 2800 from in the UK and Ireland, and +44 1753 330330 from overseas) to provide additional assistance.
Customers currently overseas should check monarch.caa.co.uk for confirmation of their new flight details which will be available a minimum of 48 hours in advance of their original departure time.  This website will be frequently updated with the latest information. Customers currently overseas shouldn’t go to the airport unless their flight back to the UK has been confirmed on monarch.caa.co.uk
Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of the CAA, said:
“We know that Monarch’s decision to stop trading will be very distressing for all of its customers and employees.
“This is the biggest UK airline ever to cease trading, so the Government has asked the CAA to support Monarch customers currently abroad to get back to the UK at the end of their holiday at no extra cost to them.
“We are putting together, at very short notice and for a period of two weeks, what is effectively one of the UK’s largest airlines to manage this task.  The scale and challenge of this operation means that some disruption is inevitable. We ask customers to bear with us as we work around the clock to bring everyone home.
“We urge people affected by the company’s collapse to check our dedicated website monarch.caa.co.uk for advice and information on flights back to the UK.  It also gives information to those passengers that have future bookings with Monarch but are yet to leave the UK.”
The CAA will be providing regular updates.

Ryanair to publish list of cancelled flights

RYANAIR PUBLISHES LIST OF FLIGHTS TO BE CANCELLED UP TO END OF OCTOBER OVER 98% OF RYANAIR CUSTOMERS WILL BE UNAFFECTED
 
Ryanair today confirmed that it has published the full list of flight cancellations (now less than 50 per day) between Thurs 21st Sept. to Tues 31st Oct. next. These cancellations have been allocated where possible, to Ryanair’s bigger base airports, and routes with multiple daily frequencies so that Ryanair can offer these disrupted customers the maximum number of alternate flights and routes in order tominimise inconvenience to them.
The full list of these flight cancellations (from Thurs 21st to Thurs Oct 31st) will appear on the Ryanair.com website later today, and customers affected by these cancellations will be emailed with offers of alternative flights or full refunds, and details of their EU261 compensation entitlement.
The airports where one line of flying will be removed for the next 6 weeks are as follows, (these airports have been selected because of the high frequency of flights Ryanair operates to/from these airports where customers can be offered the most accommodating options):
 

Barcelona
1 of 12 lines of flights

Brussels Charl
1 of 13 lines of flights

Dublin
1 of 23 lines of flights

Lisbon
1 of 4 lines of flights

London Stan
2 of 41 lines of flights

Madrid
1 of 13 lines of flights

Milan Bergamo
1 of 14 lines of flights

Porto
1 of 8 lines of flights

Rome Fiumi
1 of 3 lines of flights

 
 
While Ryanair sincerely regrets and apologises for these cancellations, it pointed out that they will affect less than 2% of all customers over the next 6 weeks, and the majority of these passengers will be offered alternative flights on the same or next day. For those passengers who cannot, or do not wish to take the alternative flights offered they will receive a full refund and their EU261 compensation.
Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said;
“While over 98% of our customers will not be affected by these cancellations over the next 6 weeks, we apologise unreservedly to those customers whose travel will be disrupted, and assure them that we have done our utmost to try to ensure that we can re-accommodate most of them on alternative flights on the same or next day.
Ryanair is not short of pilots – we were able to fully crew our peak summer schedule in June, July and August – but we have messed up the allocation of annual leave to pilots in Sept and Oct because we are trying to allocate a full year’s leave into a 9 month period from April to December. This issue will not recur in 2018 as Ryanair goes back onto a 12 month calendar leave year from 1st Jan to 31st December 2018.
This is a mess of our own making. I apologise sincerely to all our customers for any worry or concern this has caused them over the past weekend. We have only taken this decision to cancel this small proportion of our 2,500 daily flights so that we can provide extra standby cover and protect the punctuality of the 98% of flights that will be unaffected by these cancellations.”

Your SIP Card

 
Many expats living in Spain have SIP cards and are entitled to free medical treatment and medicines at
drastically reduced prices. The Spanish medical system is first class and rated as one of the best in the world and
many expats owe their lives to the treatment they have received. There is a direct link between SIP cards, the
padrón and NIE numbers. Central government has now decided that expats who received medical treatment but
whose padrón is out of date will be invoiced for that medical treatment.
Sofia Alvarez, councillor for foreign residents explained at a recent meeting with community leaders that by law
EU citizens must renew the padrón (census) every 5 years and non-EU citizens every 2 years. In order to register
on the padron simply go to the padrón office in the Playa Flamenca town hall with an hour to spare and take a
ticket. You will need your passport or identity card and something to prove that you are still living at your
address, for example a suma, electricity or water bill and your padrón will be renewed, and this automatically
renews your NIE as well.
Every October our local Town Hall has to send the padrón list to the central statistics office (INI) in Madrid. The
Town Hall gets paid based on the number of people on the padrón. Sofia Alvarez pointed out that greater
numbers on the padrón mean greater services directly in this community. Each year the INI send approximately
5,000 names back to Orihuela Town Hall with instructions to send the local police door-to- door to establish that
each of those names actually live at the addresses specified. If the property looks deserted, if nobody is home or
a neighbour says that the named person does not live there then that person will be removed from the padrón.
Normally the names checked are the ones that have not been recently renewed.
Many people, who do not want to be tax resident outside their home country assume that signing on the census
(padrón) requires them to become a tax resident. This is not correct. Once you are on the census for three months
you are required to become a resident (Residencia) but this is not the same as a tax or fiscal resident.
Although you can obtain a SIP card once you have signed on the padrón, the SIP card is technically only valid
for three months until you obtain “Residencia”. This is why a SIP card can be cancelled if the padrón is not
renewed.
Besides health care, other benefits of being “in the system” include the right to vote in local and European
elections and also there are large inheritance tax discounts available to residents. On the subject of Brexit, Sofia
Alvarez expressed the opinion that British owners of Spanish property who are properly registered on the padrón
will get preferential treatment over those who are not. So don’t delay, register or renew today.

Freedom of movement to end in 2019

Freedom of movement ‘will not continue as we know it’ post Brexit. The Prime Minister has
insisted that the free movement of people from the EU into Britain will end in 2019.
It contradicts suggestions from Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond that the current
rules in place could continue for a transitional period after the UK leaves the European
Union.
Richard Hammond said recently that there should be no ‘cliff edge’ for immigration when
Britain leaves the EU in 2019. He implied that current immigration rules should remain in
place during any transitional period after Brexit, which could last up to three years.
“At the present time, we have a high level of dependence on foreign workers in the UK.
“Nobody wants us to go over a cliff edge in March 2019 where suddenly our health services
are unable to cope, social care is unable to deliver,” he told the press.
Disagreements within the conservative party are sparking disapproval from opposing MPs.
“The government is in total disarray. Unless the cabinet can agree on a position how can it
possibly negotiate Brexit on behalf of Britain with the EU?” Tom Brake MP said.
The government has not specified what the arrangement will entail, although MPs have
brushed off the idea of a Norwegian-style arrangement.

Four-hour queues at passport control on UK flights

Airlines have warned of long queues at passport control on landing in EU countries due to
greater checks in light of the rising terror risk across the continent.
And in Barcelona, strike action has led to delays increasing even more, with waits of up to
four hours to get through.
Passengers travelling to Europe from States not in the Schengen passport-free zone are now
checked on databases rather than simply flashing their passport at a police officer.
All this is taking so long that many passengers have reported missing their flights, despite
getting to the airports over three hours before take-off, and being refused entry to the front of
the queue for those which are about to board.
Ryanair, EasyJet and British Airways have all warned passengers to allow several hours'
extra time, and have all criticised the fact that the busiest time of the travelling year – August
– combined with the extra checks have not been properly planned for.
Very few airports have been supplied with extra staff to cover the increased workload.
Minister for aviation in Britain, Lord Callanan, says he is in contact with air travel bosses in
Spain, Portugal and Italy to try to convince them to take greater steps to ensure movements
through passport control upon leaving and arriving were streamlined 'so people can just get
on with their holidays'.
Although the governments in Spain and France have promised to supply additional staff, as
yet nothing has been done.
In one case, a flight to Birmingham left Barcelona airport with 22 empty seats because of
queues passengers had no idea about until they reached the terminal – and although they
begged to go to the front of the queue as their flight was due to board, they were refused and
sent to the back.
Meanwhile, Ryanair has told all British nationals or anyone travelling to and from Britain to
ensure they get to the airport at least three hours before they are due to fly – even if they have
no checked luggage.
Barcelona airport strikes are taking place every Friday until September, and these are also
creating a knock-on effect on the rest of the week.

Briton detained for sexual abuse

A British man has been detained, accused of raping his two step sisters when they were under age. Officers from the National Police detained a British fugitive in Jacarilla who had a European arrest warrant for the crimes of sexual exploitation and rape. The man now faces life imprisonment at home
The 44 year old fugitive is accused of raping his two under age step sisters as many as 18 times. He started abusing girls when he was 16 and his attacks led to one of the victims having to have an abortion.
In 1973, the 16 year old accused started to sexually abuse his younger sister aged 12 years old. These sexual abuses continued for three years at regular intervals. After her abortion at the age of 15 she fled from home to live with her grandmother.
In her absence the child molester turned to his other step sister, some two or three times a week until she reached 18 when she also fell pregnant, and they now have a son in common.
The father of the arrested man hid his son’s crimes for several years until he suggested he should flee from Britain, and moved to Spain to hide. Once their father died, the victims reported their suffering and the British issued a search and arrest warrant.
After several investigations by the International Location of Fugitives Group of the National Police alerted different police squads to start their own search and the man was tracked down to his home in Jacarilla where he was arrested on 8th May.

Cat Café opens in Valencia

 
Valencia’s first-ever ‘cat café’ has just opened on Calle Túria with a huge collection of rescued moggies seeking homes. ‘El Passatge dels Gats’ is home to felines rescued from the street by the Valencia-based shelter Asociación Adaana, and have all been spayed or neutered, wormed, de-flead, vaccinated and given a thorough veterinary check – as is standard with most shelters whenever they welcome a new arrival.
However, in order to get a second chance at life and enjoy being spoilt rotten in a loving home, the cats need to be ‘humanised’ – as non-domestic cats tend to be very scared and shy at first, but quickly adapt and make friends with their fellow species if they are given lots of attention.
A few ‘stroking sessions’ is normally enough to break the ice, then the cats realise they cannot get enough of the comfort supplied by humans and swiftly become affectionate.
For customers, they can enjoy the added bonus of being able to relax in feline company whilst they wind down with a drink – after all, numerous studies have proven that stroking a cat relieves tension, increases dopamine and oxytocin levels and lowers blood pressure.
Given that the café is full of animals, customers cannot just walk in off the street as the cats may escape, undoing all the hard work of Adaana and El Passatge dels Gats and their clients.
Therefore, booking is required, by telephone or via the website elpassatgedelsgats.com.
A ‘bronze’ booking gives customers half an hour with the cats, whilst a ‘silver’ reservation gives them a full hour with a drink included and ‘gold’ is the same as silver but with a free snack as well. Finally, a ‘platinum’ booking means an hour’s worth of cat-stroking, a drink, and more exquisite, high-class snack.
All animals at the café are available for adoption – in fact, customers are actively encouraged to take them home and have the added advantage of all the most expensive initial vet bills having already been paid.
 

Big cash sales to be reported

 
Spanish stores are to flag up foreigners spending more than 10,000 euros in cash. The Spanish government has announced further plans to crack down on money laundering through a series of measures that include tougher sanctions against wrongdoers, guaranteed anonymity for whistle-blowers, and requiring stores to flag up purchases of more than €10,000.
The proposals are outlined in an Economy Ministry document that is up for public consultation until 10th June and which aims to bring Spanish law into line with an European Union (EU) directive from May 2015.
Spanish law already includes most of the measures outlined in the EU directive, but some articles require adapting, particularly in relation to legal authority to impose sanctions.
The government wants to bring sanctions up to date, “making them compatible with the maximum limits outlined in the European directive,” which means improving detection and making it easier for people to report money laundering by offering greater confidentiality.
The idea is not to make any “fundamental modification” to the law on money laundering and financing terrorism, but to toughen penalties.
Regarding payments in cash, the limit for non-residents in Spain will remain at €15,000, but retailers will have to introduce anti-money laundering measures on purchases of more than €10,000. For residents, the limit is €2,500.
Aside from toughening the sanctions, the Economy Ministry’s document looks at changing the structure of business groups to bring them in line with Europe, and creating a registry of professional service providers to companies and organizations without legal personality

Facebook user faces huge fine

 
 
A facebook user has been issued a fine of 30,000 euros for posting an uncomplimentary video of a police officer online. Last November a Facebook user in Spain posted a video of a police officer who failed to catch a suspect he was chasing. The scene was filmed from inside a car in the north-western city of Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia. In the video, which has now been removed, a voice can be heard seemingly mocking the police officer for being out of shape.
The Facebook post received more than 300 shares and 17,000 views, according to regional daily La Voz de Galicia. However, not seeing the funny side, the police have presented a proposal to fine the author of the post, using Spain’s Law on Public Safety – also known as the ‘gag law.’ The fine could be as high as 30,000 euros.
Some reports, including the article in La Voz de Galicia, suggested that the police also wanted to fine everyone who “liked” the video on Facebook. However a spokesperson from the National Police in Santiago told Verne that those reports were “definitely false.”
The official who wrote the proposal for the sanction only did so against the person who published the video, not for those who pressed the ‘like’ button or shared it or whatever else,” said the spokesperson.
The spokesperson explained that the proposal for the sanctions is based on two legal articles. The first has to do with the “mockery, taunts and disrespect toward the officer, who represents an institution – the National Police force.” Article 37.4 of the law says “disrespect and a lack of consideration toward police forces or public security forces carrying out their work,” is a minor infringement of the law. Those accused of violating it can face fines ranging from €100 to €600.
In the video, according to La Voz de Galicia, those making the film were questioning if the physical condition of the police officer affected his performance. The police explained that the man the officer was chasing was a psychiatric patient from a nearby hospital. “He tried to catch him, but sometimes you can do more harm than good, for example, if the chase ends in a traffic accident,” explained the spokesperson, justifying the officer’s failure to detain the patient.
The police are also basing the proposal for the fine on article 36.22, which prohibits: “the unauthorised use of images or personal or professional data of the authorities or members of the police forces or public security forces that could put the personal safety of the officer or their family members in danger.” This is considered a serious offense and can result in a fine of between €601 and €30,000. “The application of the sanction is not the responsibility of the police,” said the same source.
 
Decision pending
The police spokesperson insisted that as yet no sanction is in place, but rather a proposal for one, which will be decided upon by the central government’s sub-delegation in A Coruña, the regional capital of Galicia. When asked, the sub-delegation said it had not received a copy of the police proposal. “When we receive it we will study it to see whether or not it should be pursued or archived,” said a spokesperson.
 

Omeprazol use causes concern

Overuse of Omeprazol sparks GP concerns
 
Doctors in Spain have warned against ‘excessive and inappropriate use’ of the stomach-protector pill Omeprazol, saying it can lead to infections in the digestive system, reduced absorption of vitamins and even cancer of the oesophagus and stomach. One in three patients who take Omeprazol regularly should not be doing so, GPs reveal.
Although prescriptions for it have not increased in the last few years – quite the opposite, says digestion specialist Dr Mercedes Ricote – it can be purchased over the counter, leading to many taking it without medical advice.
Dr Ricote, of the Digestion Working Group wing of the Spanish General Practitioners’ Society (SEMERGEN), says Omeprazol is one of the most-consumed anti-acid drugs in Spain, both as a treatment for stomach acid itself, or taken prior to doses of other medication which can cause nausea and burning.
According to the ministry of national health, nearly 54.4 million boxes of Omeprazol were sold on prescription in 2013; then 53.6 million in 2014 and 52.3 million in 2015, showing that although fewer GPs are advising patients to take it, the drug is still being taken ‘excessively’.
“The point of Omeprazol is to protect the stomach against harsh medication, but the general public uses it because they believe it makes them feel better or that it stops the side-effects of drugs altogether,” Dr Ricote explains.
“Some mistakenly take it as a solution for stomach acid, and many even do so to avoid feeling bloated and full before a heavy meal or drinking session – which is definitely not what it’s for.
“It’s not designed to be used as an occasional treatment for one-off incidences of acid; it is for when the patient suffers acid two or more days a week, and in that case, it will be prescribed as part of a continual treatment programme and only when your GP sees fit.”
Omeprazol abuse alters the Ph balance in the digestive system, which can lead to infections such as salmonella, cause severe diarrhoea, and prevent crucial vitamins – particularly B12 – from being absorbed.
Also, patients who buy it over the counter to treat stomach acid instead of seeing their doctor are, effectively, delaying diagnosis of the real cause of their discomfort – which, although rare, could be as severe as gullet or stomach cancer, Dr Ricote warns.
“Although not a frequent side-effect, overuse of Omeprazol can lead to magnesium and calcium levels dropping – especially if it is taken for a long time – and this can be so severe as to lead to risks of fractures.
“We’ve seen patients who have used the drug to excess and suffered broken hips, wrists and even vertebrae as a result.”
Dr Ricote says GPs need to try to ‘educate’ patients about the correct use of Omeprazol and pharmacists should quiz customers about why they are buying it to ascertain whether they really need it.
 

New Spanish routes from Ryanair

 
Irish low-cost airline Ryanair is planning to capitalise on Spain’s tourism bonanza by opening up new routes from the country where it is already the market leader. As of February, the carrier plans to launch flights from Madrid to the Italian city of Bari, and to Glasgow and Prague, while Barcelona is expected to see new services to Krakow, Luxembourg, Prague and Venice.
At the same time, the airline will extend its winter flight schedule for both Madrid and the Catalan capital and boost the number of flights on a total of 12 existing routes from the two cities.
Under the plans, Ryanair forecasts it will carry 6.7 million people a year out of Madrid, or 12 percent more than current capacity, while the predicted rise in passenger numbers from Barcelona is 10 percent to 7.1 million.
The company headed by Michael O’Leary built on its position as the biggest airline in Spain in 2016, carrying 34.7 million passengers, a number it hopes will grow to 38 million this year, according to the carrier’s marketing director Kenny Jacobs.
The executive said Ryanair would pass savings on to customers in the wake of a Spanish government move to reduce airport taxes by 11 percent until 2021. The average ticket price for Ryanair flights in 2016 was €46 but this is expected to come down to €41 at the end of March. That’s against an average of €151 across all other airlines, according to estimates made by the Irish carrier.
Jacobs said the airline would continue to focus on short- and medium-haul flights in Europe with plans to add 220 new planes to its current fleet by 2024, but he noted that Ryanair was also looking at cooperating with IAG and Norwegian on long-haul flights.
 
Luggage clampdown
Ryanair has advised passengers that if they fail to comply with new more flexible cabin baggage rules, tougher restrictions could once again come into force. Currently passengers on the airline can bring one cabin bag weighing up to 10 kilograms with maximum dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm, plus one small bag up to 35cm x 20cm x 20cm on board the aircraft.
But Ryanair’s marketing director Kenny Jacobs said many passengers had abused the system over the summer by trying to bring large pieces of luggage on board, especially backpacks. This delays flights and puts the airline’s punctuality record at risk, he said.
While Jacobs said the airline had improved its image with its ‘Always Getting Better’ program, he said staff had been told to be especially vigilant when it comes to cabin baggage weighing over 10 kilograms and to ensure the second item of baggage is not oversize.
 

Barefoot charity walk

Barefoot and raising money
Mother and daughter on barefoot walk

A 34 year-old woman and her two-year-old daughter arrived in Torrevieja on 3rd January on their journey from Barcelona to Gibraltar. Not only are they completing this journey on foot by they are doing it barefoot. Their very long walk began in Barcelona 53 days ago and together they will ultimately cover more than a thousand kilometres. The purpose of this gruelling trek is to raise money to buy shoes for children in Nairobi.
Ilse Longuet and her daughter Helinah have been enjoying the past few days of mild weather. During the very bad rains towards the end of December, they  took refuge in a campsite in Valencia. Now Ilse is relieved that the Spanish climate is proving to be more helpful to her mission. Whilst walking, Ilse has been learning and practising her Spanish and was able to talk openly to reporters about her life and her ambition.
Ilse is a guide in an interactive science museum in Ostend, Belgium. The intention is to purchase shoes for disadvantaged children who live in Kibera which is a suburb of Nairobi. Since November 11th she has been walking around 10 to 20km a day. Where possible she has walked along the beach or she uses secondary roads.
When asked if her feet were hurting she explained that her feet were fine but her back was suffering a little from carrying her daughter in an African-style baby carrier. During her quest Ilse has been greeted warmly by Spaniards and has been welcomed into their homes. Next she has been guaranteed accommodation in Cartagena and she is well on her way to having raised the €4,000 she is aiming to have collected by the time she arrives in Gibraltar.
There have been some moments, however, when Ilse has not felt quite so welcome. In a town north of Castellón she was detained by the local policeafter someone alerted them to the woman who was walking barefoot with someone else’s child on her back.
Once she arrives in Gibraltar she will travel with her partner to Kenya and buy the shoes, water filters and food for the children who need it so desperately and who live in such poor homes. The people of Torrevieja wish her good luck.
Suzanne O’Connell
 
 
 

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