How times change.
Last week, industry minister Susan Sullivan attended an announcement by Air Canada that they would be bringing back year-round direct flights between St. John’s and London. Starting in the fall, Air Canada will offer three direct flights a week to London. Next summer, they’ll offer daily service.
It’s great news for anyone who wants to travel to Europe for business or on holiday. For that matter, if you want to get anywhere to the East, having a flight to London is a bonus. It’s like having that daily shuttle to Newark if you want to go anywhere in the United States and further south.
At times like this, it seems like a million years ago that the same people who are running the province these days were engaged in a complete insane jihad against Air Canada for making a simple business decision.
They didn’t have the business to justify the service so they discontinued it. They restarted the route afterward – and that’s when Hickey attacked Air Canada. That didn’t work out, but now they’ve got the business traffic and plan to start the service .
Back then – in 2007 - transportation minister John “Pavement Putin” Hickey attacked Air Canada and, in the process, just got a whole pile of simple facts dead wrong. Here’s the relevant bit from a post back then:
"Air Canada decided to abandon the transatlantic market in Newfoundland and Labrador last year, but decided this summer to come back to ensure that since they weren’t going to provide this necessary service, then no other provider, such as Astraeus, would be able to either."
Hickey's comments are at odds with the facts to the point of being complete nonsense.
Last February, Hickey proudly posed with the managing director of a UK-based charter airline servicing a resort complex at Deer Lake that announced it would be introducing year-round service between St. John's and Gatwick.
That was actually the second Astraeus announcement and covered the summer months. In November 2006, the company announced it would be flying during the fall and winter - note the timings - between Deer Lake and Gatwick with stops along the way in St. John's. In November, tourism minister Tom Hedderson joined Hickey and business minister Kevin O'Brien in the November laudatory release but only by O'Brien in February.
But again, here's the thing: when Air Canada announced its summer runs, [the company] had no competition and there was little likelihood any other airline would take on the flights. [In other words,] Hickey's conspiracy theory is simply ludicrous.
When Astraeus bailed on its service, Hickey kept his mouth shut.
There’s no way of knowing what drove Hickey to issue his statement, other than the head-exploding idiocy and ludicrous conspiracy theories that were par for the course back when the Old Man ruled over all he surveyed.
Ludicrous conspiracy theories.
Always good for a bit of news, back then just as in the more recent case of the completely ridiculous attack by a local hockey team boss on a bunch of conventioneers who had the temerity to book the local hockey rink three years before his friggin’ hockey team even existed let alone got into a hockey playoff.
And then as now, the batshit crazy attack got reported much more than the rights of things.
One big difference, though.
Back then, the rest of cabinet didn’t walk all over the Hickey announcement.
Last Monday, Joan Shea decided – for some completely unknown reason – announce her resignation from politics at exactly the same time as the Air Canada announcement Susan Sullivan attended to try and and attach the Conservatives with some good economic news.
Guess which one got the most coverage.
Maybe it’s nothing, but since Sullivan’s office issued a media alert about her announcement the Friday beforehand, surely Shea could have picked another time. The only comfort Sullivan can take is that Shea’s announcement timing wasn’t personal. Well, at least Sullivan wasn’t the only person Shea frigged up with her curiously-timed announcement.