Our satirical writer Edwin Phillips reads a Bank Holiday press release to the mainstream media from controversial Cardiff Airport (CA), which has cost the taxpayer millions of pounds, after news that a middle eastern country is halting flights putting the spotlight once again on the amount of public money it has received, as well as its contentious link up with a state-run carrier of a nation accused of supporting terrorism.
FROM: Cardiff Regional Airport Priority (CRAP)
TO: All Regional Staff Editorial (ARSE)
TIME OF TAKE OFF: Once Coronavirus Crisis Is Over
The news media are urged not to report details of the taxpayers’ money we have allegedly received, and are forbidden from using the word ‘large’.
It is of no consequence whatsoever that we are to be given another £6.8 million, after justifiably receiving a loan of £21.2 million last year (it shows how abstemious we are with the public’s money that we had originally requested £28 million).
We are grateful to the Welsh Government (WG) for buying us for the extremely reasonable sum of £52 million, when it is plainly absurd that Glasgow Prestwick Airport (GP) was purchased for £1 by the Scottish Executive (SE).
We condemn the Welsh Conservative AM Russell George, who speaks on transport issues, saying: “This is good money after bad.
“Tot up the purchase price of £52 million, the current £38.2 million loan, and last year’s £21.2 million loan, and the airport could be in hock to the taxpayer to the tune of more than £110 million since it was bought by the government in 2013.
“This is unsustainable…”
But our officials note with satisfaction that you in the mainstream media have reported positively our link-up with state-run Qatar Airways (QA), and only that outlier website The Eye has questioned it.
The mainstream media should continue to support our association with so-called ‘controversial’ QA even after the announcement that Emirates Airlines (EA), based in Dubai, was suspending all passenger flights amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, because of an “unprecedented crisis situation”.
It should, of course, be stressed that EA have anyway, no flights from Cardiff and just because it is another middle eastern airline it does not affect our hugely-successful tie-up with QA.
It must not be reported that Qatar has apparently been the subject of a warning from the UK Government to travellers going there, and that allegedly the state holds ‘pariah’ status among many other nations.
It is nonsensical that Saudi Arabia is one of several countries around the world which have cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar.
We understand that eight sovereign nations across the globe have regrettably severed diplomatic ties altogether with Qatar and in July 2017 it was unfortunately reported that the state had been cut off by some of its neighbours over alleged terrorist support. Our officials are happy to stress that Qatar denies backing groups linked to Islamic State although it does admit it supports the Muslim Brotherhood.
The emirate had rightly refused to comply with an initial list of 13 demands, saying it would not agree to any measures that threatened its sovereignty or violated international law. But it was regrettably told by its neighbours that they wanted it to accept six broad principles on combating extremism and terrorism.
It should be a matter of rejoicing that Qatar also hosted the ousted ruler of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, who was sadly convicted of corruption in a Sudanese court on December 14 but we celebrate the fact that he seems unlikely to be extradited to stand trial for overseeing genocide in Darfur.
Qatar has shown that it is hugely generous too, because hundreds of millions of dollars in aid money has been given to Hamas, the group which holds sway in the Gaza Strip, and which has been disappointingly designated by the USA as a terrorist organisation.
Qatar’s successful football World Cup bid has also prompted unfortunate questions it seems.
The Sunday Times, has supposedly ‘revealed’ that Qatar had ‘secretly’ offered £400 million to the governing body of international football, FIFA, just 21 days before the widely-welcomed decision was announced to hold the 2022 football World Cup there.
It is plainly ridiculous for journalists on that so-called newspaper to allege that an indictment of the disgraced FIFA executive Jack Warner – which is the result of the FBI’s five-year investigation into FIFA – also claims that three senior South American officials were given bribes to vote for Qatar to host the 2022 tournament.
Despite all these so-called ‘controversies’, the mainstream media, senior politicians in Wales as well as our own executives should be congratulated for lauding the connection with QA.
In interviews, the First Minister of Wales at the time, Carwyn Jones stated unequivocally: “We would like to work with his excellency (Akbar Al Baker the Chief Executive of QA)“. It was correctly reported he had tweeted that he “welcomed” the first QA flight into CA and said it represented a “huge boost” for Wales.
The then Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns informed the travelling public: “The new flight from Cardiff to Doha plugs our entrepreneurs straight into one of the most dynamic economies in the Middle East, and an airport which offers a further 150 global destinations”.
We were pleased to see that the mainstream media’s response to our announcement of the new route at the time was remarkable in its ‘dynamism’, but unfortunately it too became a target of The Eye’s appalling satirical writer.
The new flight to Qatar’s Hamed International Airport was described in an upbeat manner in the South Wales Echo for providing “capacity for 150,000 passengers a year, as well as significant freight capacity for Welsh exporters at around 10 tonnes a flight”. In April 2017 BBC Wales’s Economics Correspondent Sarah Dickins said approvingly: “The new direct route from Cardiff to Doha is a reminder not just that the economy of Qatar is growing significantly but also that trade between Wales, the Arab world and beyond is increasing”.
When the first flight from Doha was due, WalesOnline reported faithfully the words of our Chairman at the time Roger Lewis when he said: “This is a pivotal moment for Cardiff Airport, for Wales and the South West of England. The far reaching consequences of this service for passengers and businesses will be transformational”. The same praising word was used by the Chief Executive of CA Deb Bowen Rees who told the South Wales Echo: “The Qatar Airways service has been transformational…”
We applaud the fact that Mr Lewis has also transformed himself since the tie-up with QA. He is to take on a new position as president of the National Museum of Wales/Amgueddfa Cymru.
But he has been no stranger to being in the media for unfortunate reasons.
Before his tenure at CA, he was fully immersed during a tumultuous period in charge of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) when his institution engaged in a fierce row with the regions, which he tragically lost.
When he was head of ITV Cymru Wales Mr Lewis also seemingly provoked enormous anger – this time among some of his staff. One former employee told The Eye: “He presided over the piecemeal dismantlement of ITV Wales, with facilities and departments disappearing one after another, a process which would eventually lead to the closure of the Culverhouse Cross (CX) site. I remember there was much ‘management speak’ about the need to move to a facility that was fit for purpose ‘going forward’”.
Yet despite this difficult history Mr Lewis has come through.
On his appointment, the Welsh Deputy Minister for Culture Sport and Tourism, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, said: “I’m delighted with Roger’s appointment as the new president for Amgueddfa Cymru”.
Mr Lewis too has apparently seen his moves in a positive light and has commented on television in the past: “I know my success is staggering to many”. Part of that staggering success may be that he has also threatened to place a legal injunction on The Eye to stop a previous article about him being published which he was right not to like.
So we say to journalists in the mainstream Welsh media: ignore all the supposed ‘controversies’ about Qatar, because our link-up with QA is flying high and is ‘transformational’.
Journalists should also disregard the millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money CA has received…
Tomorrow – why a single Welsh police force could be more likely now after the controversies over how the lockdown has been enforced.
Our Editor Phil Parry’s memories of his extraordinary 36-year award-winning career in journalism as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’ Order the book now!
If you need something to keep the kids entertained during these uncertain times (in Welsh) try Ffwlbart Ffred about the amusing stories of Ffred and his pet.