Gozo’s tunnel or bridge link still being discussed 2 years on

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Gozo's tunnel or bridge link is still being discussed 2 years onReaders Letter: “Two years on and I note that there are still discussions as to whether Gozo should have a fixed tunnel or bridge link. With the country in hock to the EU to the tune of 7 Billion Euros, such projects, which would cost millions, must be out of the question as well as being an engineering challenge.

“I spent many years studying the inter-island link, in conjunction with the GBC and GTA. We all agreed that there was a greater need for a fixed-wing airlink between a lengthened airstrip at the Heliport. MEPA also supported this, as did the Malta Labour Party.

The cost of such an extension, using the excellent passenger terminal (now in ruin), would be around 300,000 Euros and would significantly improve access for well-heeled tourists and entrepreneurs from abroad. This would boost Gozo’s own GDP and provide more local jobs.”

Roy Perry

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    48 Responses

    1. James A. Tyrrell says:

      It’s been quite a while since Roy has told us about his years of studying the inter-island link, and I can’t say anyone has missed him. What he failed to tell us before and will no doubt avoid trying to tell us now is how such a fixed wing service could ever be financially sustainable. I seem to remember stories about how it would provide easier access to Malta for workers and students but we all knew that was no more than words. Students travelling to Malta would not be able to afford to use the service and the majority of workers would be in the same position. Any workers who did decide to use a fixed wing service to Malta would of course be forced to use public transport once they arrived to get to their place of work so they would probably spend the day working just to pay for their travelling expenses!

      So that brings us back to the tourists like myself. Would I use a fixed wing service between the islands? The short answer to that is no I wouldn’t. The vast majority of tourists who travel to Gozo do so for the peace and quiet that the island offers and the last thing they want is light aircraft buzzing around the island all day as they take off and land. So who would benefit from a landing strip being built on Gozo? As studies have already shown such a service would not and never could be financially sustainable unless the Government were going to provide continuous funding to keep it going, which wouldn’t happen.

      This would mean that this further destruction of land on Gozo would turn out to be no benefit to the Gozitan people but would quickly be taken over by private aircraft belonging to the very people who are responsible for the overdevelopment of the islands at the moment. And let’s be honest here, that’s the whole point of certain people calling for a fixed wing service in the first place.

      • Daniel says:

        James, it looks like you did not even try to read and understand the article. That is not what the author is trying to explain. Moreover you have no idea for which reason the airstrip will be used and besides the land where the runway could be built is already full of rubbish and scrap.

        The job sector in Gozo is on the decline. The purpose of such an industry would not just bring buzzing aircraft over gozo, but much more. It will bring people with cash and lots of cash who will be willing to spend in Gozo. I m talking from experience. I have met countless private flyers who wish to have a landing strip in Gozo where they can land and go out for lunch or dinner. On the other hand, business men always crave to stay in Gozo, however they always mention that this could be done with extreme difficulty due to the fact that if they need to leave urgently it would take them for ever to just reach the airport.
        This will put more money in the gozitan economy. Not to mention the list of jobs created for people working at the airstrip where we already have a terminal with the fire engine facilities all ready in place.

      • James A. Tyrrell says:

        Believe me Daniel I know exactly what the author is trying to explain as he has been trying to explain it for years. The facts are that a fixed wing service between Malta and Gozo can never be financially sustainable. The studies have already been done to prove this. Do you think this Government or any other Government for that matter are going to pump money into it to keep it going? The answer to that is no. If that had indeed been the case then they would have pumped the money into the helicopter service that was running.

        You say that the land where the runway could be built is full of rubbish and scrap. That is very true Daniel but it could quite easily be cleaned up without building a runway. The rubbish and scrap thing is something that has been used in Malta and Gozo for years by developers and land speculators. They allow an area to be used as a dump and then a nice developer comes along and offers to buy it at a knock down price, clean it up and build a nice hotel on it. They have been using the same argument for years now to back the plans for a marina at Hondoq.

        You say that the job sector in Gozo is on the decline but isn’t that true throughout Europe? Are you saying that the answer to the problem is to build an airstrip so that the rich can land their toy planes on it? First of all according to GonziPN they have created 20,000 new jobs so surely some of those must have trickled through to Gozo. Secondly according to the NSO which as you know is a department of the same Government Malta is now out of recession, just in time for the election, so all your worries are now over! As for this idea of building your way out of a recession that idea has been done to death on the main island turning a lot of it into high rise slums.

        The one point I agree with you on is that there are a lot of private flyers who can’t wait for an airstrip to be built on Gozo. As I said above in my answer to Roy that is the whole idea of calling for it in the first place, so don’t try to wrap it up as something for the ordinary Gozitan citizen or foreign tourist neither of whom would benefit from it.

        By the way have you been there lately? The present terminal is in ruins and whilst it served its purpose as a transit point for the heliport it would not be suitable for a fixed wing service. So another building would need to be erected at more expense for the short time the service would run before folding and handing everything over to the rich boys with their toys.

      • Daniel says:

        I say again! it is not about bringing a fixed wing service between the 2 islands. Its about increasing the opportunities in Gozo.

        Moreover the decline of jobs in Gozo has got nothing to do with recession like the rest of Europe. It a complete different problem. Students in Gozo after pursuing studies in the university are not finding any opportunities in Gozo and must reside in Malta. Hence Gozo needs a bigger share of the pioneer companies/branches opening in Malta if it is ever going to reduce the fast ageing population in gozo. Gozo is becoming home for the elderly. Consequently extinguishing the chances of the remaining industries and jobs.

      • James A. Tyrrell says:

        As you say Daniel the decline of jobs in Gozo has got nothing to do with recession like the rest of Europe. It has to do with the Gozitan people being treated like second hand citizens by the Maltese Government. I’m all for increasing opportunities on Gozo but not by the further destruction of the island to put in place a service which studies have already shown can never be financially viable. Can’t you understand the simple fact Daniel that such a service could never pay for itself? People come on here and shout about wanting a fixed wing service between Malta and Gozo but the truth is they would probably never use it. They seem to think that planes are going to sitting there like some sort of personal taxi just waiting for them to turn up. If such a service existed today the only ones who would be using it on a regular basis are the people who are wealthy enough to do so due to a wealth probably created by over developing the islands. Why make it easier for them to destroy the place?

    2. Walter Sultana says:

      Why you go and spend all these Billions of Euros ,for only few Thousand of People so they can travel from one Island to the other , to spend only few Euros .Do you think its Worth it ???. You be better off , if you buy two more Gozo Channel Boats ,and forget about the Billions you want to spend .for a Bridge . or for Tunnel …..Malta and Gozo Does NOT have the population to make it worth it .. Who is going to pay for it ,and how long will it takes to pay for it ???. . And for what , to make the Speeders have more Accidents in the Tunnel ??? . Because that will be used like Hi WAY .under the Sea ….. Walter

      • James A. Tyrrell says:

        I agree with you Walter that the bridge or tunnel idea will probably never happen due to the cost involved. I do however think it would be the best solution as it would benefit all the people of Malta and Gozo and not just the few who can afford their own plane. I go to Gozo every year and not only don’t I mind the ferry crossing, I look forward to it as I find it a very relaxing way to arrive on the island.

      • peter paul says:

        Mr Tyrrell in your comments you were spot on on your arguments because as you said I personally have heard the current prime minister saying that all the reports that were brought to him all have shown that the idea of extending the air strip wasn`t feasible

        Secondly in regards the dump site that has been said on Hondoq Ir Rummien area by the developers

        And thirdly keep up informing us through very informative comments

      • Derek Steele says:

        The ferry crossing can be a lovely way to start ones holiday if ferry times are given plenty of thought,however I could not cope with with the journeys as a daily commute.My 20 miles each way averages 25 minutes at home in Pembrokeshire and that is all single carriageway.

      • peter says:

        Agree with you completely Walter. We need a tunnel to Gozo like we need a hole in the head! I cannot begin to fathom how one of the most over-populated islands and the smallest – also with the most density of cars in the world -(malta) – has to rely on another road (this time in the sea) for a crossing which takes under half an hour by ferry.. This road is to be the link between two of the smallest islands in the world that are surrounded by sea! Would it not be more feasible to invest in crossings by sea and on means that can can be faster than the present ones, if one so desires. How do people in cities like Istanbul, Venice, Amsterdam, Piraeus, the Greek islands just to mention a few, cope ? Ferry crossings are the norm in even the biggest and coldest countries in the world -and here we are in the middle of the calm mediterranean sea, not taking advantage of the sea!

      • Peter says:

        YES FOR A BRIDGE OR A TUNNEL

        Gozitans not only want a bridge or a tunnel but we are in dire need of one or the other to help us solve our work,health,education,business,social and other daily problems.

      • John Edwards says:

        How can you be sure a bridge/tunnel would solve these problems Peter?

        A need for a bridge or tunnel is the symptom of the fact that Gozo needs more Investment

      • Peter says:

        Walter jew inti qighed tejd hekk ghaliex qieghed tajjeb jew ghax egoist.

        Inti dawn il miljuni qieghed tara zejda ?
        Id-dejn li ghamel il-pajjiz ma tarahx zejjed?
        Kieku b’dawk il-biljuni ta Euros ta dejn li ghandna kienu jinbnew iktar minn bridge wiehed.

    3. Saviour Grech says:

      This idea of financial viability does not come in when dealing with connectivity. Suffering from double insularity, Gozo needs to have different types connectivity to Malta, and why not to different parts of the world. So I opine that at the very earliest the successful air link experiment should be revived and the catamaran service should be reinstated. At the same time plans should be taken in hand to add a fourth boat,with the capability to go to Sicily and beyond, to the Gozo Channel. Mr. Perry do not lose heart, one day the air link and more will Come about.

      • James A. Tyrrell says:

        Don’t be silly Saviour, of course financial viability comes into it. Do you really expect any Government to pump money into a black hole?

        You say that Gozo suffers from double insularity. Why do you use the word suffers when double insularity is the major selling point for the island from the point of view of tourists. It is even the major selling point for the many Maltese who have second homes on Gozo so that they can escape the madness of Malta at weekends.

        What is this ‘successful air link experiment,’ you are referring to? For anyone wishing to fly between the islands they can already do that by using the seaplane. As for the very few who can’t wait to take the ferry the same Government that you expect to pump money into a fixed wing link would I’m sure be more than happy to pump it into a helicopter link. There again maybe not as they had that chance didn’t they?

        I do however like the idea of a fourth ship with the capability to go to Sicily and beyond.

    4. Terry Stride says:

      Roll this round your tongue “Gozo Sky Bus”

    5. mario Pace says:

      This is nothing more than a pie in the sky.

      Mr Perry I totally disagree with your comments .You seem to be obsessed to get this airstrip and for whom ??

      Do read all the comments above and you think about it again please

    6. Saviour Grech says:

      Dear Mr. Tyrell, as a Maltese citizen residing in Gozo and paying my share in the Government’s coffers I not only expect, but demand that the Government do its duty and minimise as much as possible the difficulties brought about by the natural divide between the Maltesee islands. And the provision (reinstatement) of an air link is one of these provisions. When in existence the helicopter service was used by thousands of persons, mostly tourists who travelled to Gozo. Since its discontinuation, a good number of hotels in Gozo had to close down.

      As you must appreciate that Gozitans will never stomach nor surrender to the notion that they have to act as ‘pasturi’ in a crib for the enjoyment of visitors.

      • James A. Tyrrell says:

        Oh well I suppose if you ‘demand’ it the Government are bound to take notice! The helicopter service although I used it myself many times was not used by as many people as you think Saviour. If it had been then it would have been paying for itself and would still be in existence. The reason it stopped operating was because your present Government failed to live up to its promises of subsidies. And I have to say that I find you attempt to blame the closure of hotels on Gozo on the discontinuation of the helicopter service a joke. I can just hear all the tourists saying, ‘the helicopter service has stopped running so obviously we can’t stay in a Gozo hotel anymore!’ Get real.

    7. Saviour Grech says:

      Keep it up Roy.

      You are doing a good job in keeping up the pressure. Perhaps, one day, the powers that be will come go understand that the provision of a airlink is one of the means that can ensure the future of Gozo as a liveable island.

      • Peter says:

        @ Saviour Grech

        Very well said !!!

        Saviour sfortunatament ghawn Ghawdex qieghed jizviluppa certu mibeda lejn il- barranin ghaliex qeghdin jindahlu wisq u ifixklu kull zvilup li jista ikun ghawn f’Ghawdex. Jopponu ghal kull zvilup ghanke sempliciment bini ta supermarket. Ghawn Ghawdex bhalissa ghawn nnuqqas ta xoghol u ghanna bzonn progetti li jiggeneraw ix-xoghol u mux min ifixkel.

      • albert says:

        Peter We know that here in Gozo we need work.BUT work has to be sustainable and not for a few months/Years and then we would loose more than we gained.Capisce

      • Peter says:

        Very well said !!!

        Albert fill fatt jiena hekk ktibt ‘ progetti li jiggeneraw ix-xoghol ‘.

      • Saviour Grecg says:

        Peter,

        Ma ghandu jkn hemm l-ebda mibgheda ghall-barranin. Dawn ghandhom dritt jitkellmu, izda qabel jitkellmu ghandhom japprezzaw li barra l-veduta taghhom bhala rtirati hemm veduti ohrajn. Fosthom li kif ghidt qabel li Ghadex mhux presepju u ahna ma ghandna l-ebda ambizzjoni biex noqghodulhom bhala pasturi.

        Izda wara kollox mhux il-baranin li jxekklu l-progress izda dawk il-Maltin u Ghawdxi li ghandhom is-sahha li jinfluenzaw id-decizjonijet li qed izommu mill Ghawdex jkun hawn l-izvilupp mixtieq.

      • James A. Tyrrell says:

        It would appear Saviour that according to you ‘foreigners’ have a right to an opinion just so long as that opinion agrees with yours.

      • Saviour Grech says:

        Everybody has a right for an opinion, locals and foreign residents. My point is that Gozo needs to have a type of development that will allow it to be liveable, and where It does not end up to be only a place for retirement with the younger generations leaving for good.

      • James A. Tyrrell says:

        The point is Saviour I agree with you and would support all efforts in that direction 100% However the further destruction of land on Gozo to make way for something that has already been proven to be financially unsustainable, will cause damage to the quiet atmosphere of the island and therefore will have a negative impact on the tourist industry is not a good move to be making.

    8. Mark Thorogood says:

      Roy no longer lives in Gozo

      • Peter says:

        @Mark Thorogood

        So what ?

        Foreigners are not locals. Living here or abroad does’nt mean that you pretend to rule the country and oppose every project to be created in Gozo.

      • Mark Thorogood says:

        It was a factual statement. Where did I say I opposed this project ? You read a lot into 6 words.

      • albert says:

        Mark don`t take notice from people that read and answer parts where it suits them .Fact is a fact that this white elephant is not feasible .

        Go and ask to see reports that were done Peter maybe you see them the other way around

      • Peter says:

        Mr. albert how do you know that it is not feasible ?

        Do you have the necessary technical knowhow to decide if the project is feasible or not.

    9. James A. Tyrrell says:

      To people like Peter who are requesting technical knowhow in order to understand this problem I would like to quote Charles J. Buttigieg who has written on this subject many times in the past. He says;

      During my tenure of office as Manager Special Projects at Air Malta and as General Manager Malta Air Charter we made more than one survey and feasibility study and they always showed clearly that an aerial operation to Gozo can’t be financially viable unless the number of tourists to Gozo multiply to such a phenomenal number which could not be seen possible. This applies to a helicopter operation as well as to fixed wings. I was also consulted by a number of international operators that had shown an interest in the service and they all concluded that an air-link between the two islands would be a financial suicide.

      Different Government Ministries are well aware of the unsustainability of this service yet for some obscure reason they keep their mouth shut.

      My two penny advise, based on 40 years experience in Aviation, Marketing, Tourism and Airline Business had always been and still is to forget this silly notion and concentrate on a good shuttle service between MIA and Cirkewwa.

      Is this enough technical knowhow for you?

    10. Peter says:

      @ James A. Tyrrell

      So you were in favour of the closure of the only Air Malta Office in Gozo ?

    11. James A. Tyrrell says:

      No idea what you are talking about Peter. Where or when did I ever comment on the closure of the only Air Malta Office in Gozo?

      Albert stated that an air link is not feasible. You asked him if he had the technical knowledge to say that it wasn’t feasible. I came back with a quote from someone with over 40 years worth of technical knowledge on the subject so why don’t you comment on that instead?

    12. Mario says:

      @ Roy Perry

      VERY WELL SAID !!!

    13. Peter says:

      The main problems of Gozo are the lack of foreign investment and the double insularity which are the result of lack of progress in Gozo. Therefore I strongly believe that the possibility of a fixed link between Gozo and Malta should be the only solution.

    14. James A. Tyrrell says:

      Peter have you any idea what attracts tourists to Gozo? It’s a rhetorical question as I already know that the answer to it is quite obviously no. It’s interesting to note that almost a year down the line you still haven’t addressed the quote I put online from Charles J. Buttigieg. Is that because you can’t argue against his obvious expertise in the matter?

    15. Peter says:

      Mr. Tyrell I agree with many arguments that you write but I can’t agree that you mention Charles J. Buttigieg who says that there was never a commercial need for an Air Malta office with it’s only two representatives in Gozo. So how can he see a small airstrip viable.

    16. James A. Tyrrell says:

      Peter I don’t remember him mentioning anything about an Air Malta office and anyway what in God’s name has that got to do with the further destruction of land in Gozo so that some idiots can land their little toys?

    17. Peter says:

      You quoted what Charles J. Buttigieg, said that his study was not on the destruction of land in Gozo but on the feasability of a small airstrip in Gozo. Now how can he see feasibility on an Airstrip in Gozo when at the same time he says that there was never a commercial need for an Air Malta office with it’s only two representatives in Gozo.
      Do you agree with him ?
      Why did Air Malta never publishd those studies ?

      In the link below you can read what Charles J. Buttigieg commented.

      http://www.maltastar.com/dart/20120208-gozo-air-malta-office-closure-an-injustice

    18. James A. Tyrrell says:

      How do I know why Air Malta never published the results, have you asked them?

      If there was no commercial need for an office on Gozo then of course it will be shut down. Do you expect them to pay for premises and two staff to answer a couple of queries a day?

      The facts are that various studies have been done involving various overseas airlines who had toyed with the idea of a fixed wing service to Gozo. All the studies came back with the same answer, that it wouldn’t work. I mean who do you think would want to use it anyway and when I say that I mean from a Gozitan point of view?

    19. Peter says:

      First of all it’s more your interest to ask AirMalta about this report so that you start talking facts.

      There was no news on the media about surveys and feasibility studies by AirMalta and there were no reports published on the media. You said that there are various studies that have been done involving various overseas airlines, CAN YOU PUBLISH THEM PLEASE?

      So you agree that Air Malta is treating Gozo as a second class island by closing down their Gozo office. Do you know how many Gozitans elderly or not need the services of this office and they have to seek help by crossing over to Malta. Mr.Tyrell the Air Malta premises were given for free by the Government.

      Hundreds of Gozitans including myself used the Helicopter service to the Malta Airport to travel overseas to avoid as much hassle as possible.

    20. James A. Tyrrell says:

      I also used the helicopter service to transfer between the airport and Gozo, and usually I was the only person on it. You want facts well here’s one for you, the helicopter service did not make enough money to break even let alone make a profit therefore it was stopped.

      I have no idea who you are Peter and to be honest I couldn’t give a damn. When it comes to facts regarding the feasibility of a fixed wing service between Malta and Gozo I think I would rather rely on a statement issued by someone who held the position of Manager Special Projects at Air Malta and General Manager Malta Air Charter, than someone who has no idea what they are talking about and just likes the idea of a fixed wing service.

    21. Peter says:

      What we are debating is the subject not the person and I feel that there is no need to know who I am. I agree with many of the subjects that you post online but unfortunately on this topic we are on different wavelengths.
      According to your reasoning even AirMalta should stop flying because it is also working in millions of Euro of debt.
      I REPEAT what I said before. There was no news on the media about surveys and feasibility studies by AirMalta and there were no reports published on the media. You said that there are various studies that have been done involving various overseas airlines, CAN YOU PUBLISH THEM PLEASE?

    22. James A. Tyrrell says:

      First of all you state that the reports were not made public then you ask me if I can publish them.

      I have never once wrote about or commented on anything to do with Air Malta. You are the one that seems to have a bee in your bonnet regarding that so why don’t you take it up with Air Malta as I’m not in the least bit interested in the matter.

    23. Derek Steele says:

      I also used the helicopter transfer service(once only thank god)when the fare was a mere LM4 each way.It was not an experience that I would ever wish to repeat.
      The closing of the Air Malta office on Gozo I suppose was an inevitable nuisance in the grand scheme of things.The staff were very friendly and helpful,better to talk face to face than over the telephone,and the airconditioned office offered a brief respite from the summer heat.
      I can’t imagine that any type of airlink between the islands will ever attract enough patronage to make its operator even a meagre return on their substantial investment.As for the tunnel/bridge option………………look out for flying pigs!!!!!!!!!!!

      Derek Steele,HAVERFORDWEST,Pembrokeshire,Wales.

    24. James A. Tyrrell says:

      My point exactly Derek.

      I can’t say I agree regarding the helicopter service though as I always found it very enjoyable. The most enjoyable trip was when I was accompanied by a woman and her granddaughter who was about 6 I suppose. I thought the child was going to be frightened but far from it she laughed and whooped the whole way over. It was obviously a great experience for her. The very first helicopter transfer I made was at night with my girlfriend at the time. The pilot actually went out of his way to take us on a tour over Gozo by night the best part of which was flying over the Citadel. For those few who require such a service and are willing to pay for it then the helicopter is the answer. The last thing we need is more land destroyed to later become a plaything for private pilots when the fixed wing service closed down due to lack of use.

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