Sunday, September 26, 2004

I just found an old photo of my wife coming home from work!

Invicta Radio is reporting that Plane Station, the company that was once Wiggins and owns Manston airport, is buying EUjet, "To ensure that the airport continues to develop as an international hub etc etc". (See RTL report)

This strikes me as a little sudden, as EUjet have only been flying for three weeks and I'm wondering what circumstances prompted Plane Station, one of the shareholders, to dive in and acquire the lot before the service had time to bed down? Having had a look at the latter's last set of annual accounts, I'm even more curious. I'm sure such speculation will be satisfied by a little more detail in the coming week. Posted by Hello

"A succesfull mission - Two carvans and a Nissan Sunny shot down over Birchington"!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

EU Jet Live Departures & Arrivals Board

I see that yesterday, an EUjet flight from Manston, with twenty-six people on board made an emergency landing at Dublin Airport after experiencing difficulties with its nose wheel. These things always sound more dramatic than they actually are and in this case, everyone arrived safely.

I've been in the position before when the Tower, desparate for a bit of excitement, has been asking "Do you want to declare an emergency" and I've replied "Not at the moment thank you", thinking of all the CAA paperwork I might have to fill in if the wretched warning light insisted on staying on. It's a bit different when something more serious happens, such as a bit falls off the aircraft but thankfully that rarely if ever happens to anyone!

This reminds me that my aircraft should be on its way for a repaint at Bournemouth this afternoon but fat chance getting off the ground in this gale.

Thanks to Dick Osborne who has passed me the link to the EU Jet "Live" arrivals and departures board over at Manston airport. You can now look-up the flight times from here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I walked the few miles into Cliftonville today to collect my mountain bike, past the Nayland Rock where two boys from Hartsdown School, were attempting to kick the glass out of the big shelter and on, along Margate seafront, past empty amusement arcades, a deserted scene except for strolling refugees and noisy sea birds.

Cliftonville, on foot is like an ascent into a windswept, empty world of grinding poverty, particularly up Margate Hill past the DSS building into the High Street. Gaunt teenage mothers pushing prams and equally haggard-looking refugees and unemployed young men walking past shabby charity shops at the western end.

Cliftonville is being slowly throttled by neglect, unemployment and its role as a dumping-ground for the DSS and London councils happy to pass the responsibility for their problems elsewhere. How government, local or central, could ever make a difference here is beyond me. In a generation, it's collapsed into a shadow of what it once was and it could take another thirty years to recover, which it won't without rapid, intelligent and expensive intervention. Posted by Hello

Monday, September 20, 2004

If anyone ever wondered what the Martello towers in the sea between Herne Bay and Southend look like from the air, we caught this shot on the way in the other night. Looking like invading robots from a Stars Wars movie I think! Posted by Hello
A view of the Albanian "Big Kebab" bar in Broadstairs' Albion Street. The only food source open on Saturday night when several pilots stumbled out of my first pub crawl in twenty-years. Opposite Marchesis' restaurant, Big Kebab deserves several Egon Ronay stars, if only for being open. Always suspicious of fast food outlets and as "designated driver" I ordered a plate of chips and was amazed to discover that these and the kebabs ordered by my companions were beautifully cooked and the equal of anything one might find in a good restaurant. Evidence of how a polite and friendly young Albanian has found a niche in Broadstairs! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Time Poor

Struggling to find the time to write my next Computer Weekly column. Snowed under with work and then I had to deliver my aircraft for its annual service this morning. Gale force conditions made that "interesting". There's a ship beached just off the ranges at Lydd in Kent and its become quite a tourist attraction from what I could see from the air. By the way, does anyone know wht both Legoland and Chessington are both closed. My poor daughter turned-up there this morning after a 120 mile drive and found the gates to both shut and people milling around not knowing why two of the UK's largest theme parks would be closed in September? Posted by Hello

Sunday, September 12, 2004

The Weald's Favourite Airline

Where was I? Oh yes, flying EU Jet to Nice and back this weekend and what I thought of it.

The vote, from a quick poll of my family and other passengers on the flight was this is a great way to travel. No long queues or airport stress. Straight into Manston, Kent International, incredibly friendly and helpful staff, unjaded by years at check-in desks elsewhere, a mug of Starbuck's coffee and quickly onto a very comfortable Fokker 100 to Nice, Cote D?Azur in less time than it takes to get to London on any morning.

I could commute this way I thought and I'm tempted. EU Jet obviously needs to fill-up their flights rather more than I saw this weekend but these are early days and I'm not complaining. Having experienced years of travel "Hell" at Heathrow and Gatwick, this was a comfortable and welcome change, door to door from my house in Kent to a house in Nice in less than four hours and in a way which bought some pleasure back to travel.

To be honest and I go to Nice quite regularly on business, - with the client paying my Business Class fare from Heathrow with British Airways, - I would much rather pay the £40 to EU Jet and go comfortable economy than take the longer haul with BA any day. In fact, my small daughter having spotted an Emirates Jet parked next to us in Nice suggested that instead of flying to Dubai from London next time we go, we take EU Jet to Nice and pick-up the connecting flight from there. It's not a bad idea either.

A couple of thoughts for EU Jet though. If photographs are forbidden in the departures lounge then you need a sign saying so rather than a polite reprimand from security. Let?s be honest, a band of boy scouts could probably infiltrate Manston if they really wanted to, so while security is important, let?s not go overboard on forbidding photos.

If the incoming aircraft is late, best let the passengers know rather than take bets among themselves. Our flight to Nice was twenty minutes late coming in from it?s last stop, Dublin and so I called the tower at Manston and asked where it was before telling the two very nice girls at the check-in desk who didn?t know.

The coffee on the aircraft is far too hot, super-heated in fact. I had to add cold water to mine and if there was any sudden turbulence there could be a nasty scalding accident.

The pilot could say a little more. I know the First Officer was a young woman but it doesn't have to be a secret!

Marks out of ten for EU Jet on our first flight then? In contrast with any other airline I've flown, including BA, EasyJet and Emirates, I'll give EU Jet nine out of ten for efficiency, courtesy and above all enthusiasm!