Brexit’s Ironic Twists Hit Spain’s Biggest Industry

“Peak Tourism” has already set in. Brits account for 22% of tourists in Spain. Now add Brexit.

By Don Quijones, Spain, UK, & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.

In a delectable irony, two of the biggest corporate victims of a disorderly Brexit could turn out to be Spain’s flagship carrier Iberia and low-cost airline Vueling. Both companies are majority owned by British Airways’ parent company International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG), which is UK-based. And current EU rules require European carriers to be both majority-owned and operated in the bloc.

If the UK leaves the EU on March 29, IAG will no longer meet those requirements. If the current legislation is not changed or a new loophole inserted into it, Iberia and Vueling’s European fleet could find themselves grounded in 70 days’ time. As absurd as it may sound, even planes shuttling between Spain’s two biggest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, could be refused permission to take off.

In recent weeks, the two airlines, together with the Spanish government, have been trying to convince the European Commission that they are more Spanish than they are British, but seemingly to little avail. The major sticking point is the matter of ownership. Both Iberia and Vueling say that although they are both under majority British ownership, control is in the hands of one Spanish company. While IAG holds 49.9 percent of voting rights, Garanair, the remaining 50.1 percent voting stake is wholly owned by Spain’s struggling retail giant El Corte Ingles whose debt is currently junk-rated.

For the moment negotiations on the airlines’ behalf between the Spanish government and the European Commission appear to be at an impasse, although that didn’t stop IAG from proclaiming that it is confident it “will comply with the EU and the UK ownership and control rules post-Brexit,” adding for good measure that it is, without a slither of a doubt, a Spanish company.

Spain’s biggest tourism lobby, Exceltur, is not wholly convinced. “We do not know the shareholding structure and the legal intricacies of the case. We do not have any magic wand either, but we have to clear up uncertainties so that Iberia can continue to fly,” said Exceltur’s vice-president José Luis Zoreda.

The lobbying group is concerned about not just Iberia and Vueling’s predicament but all airlines that are in danger of losing their EU operating license. “We cannot afford to lose our connection with a market as important as the UK,” said Zoreda.

The numbers speak for themselves. In 2018 Spain attracted 17.6 million British visitors. That’s 22% of the 80 million foreign tourists that visited the country, according to Exceltur. While the number was down by over a million on 2017’s record haul of 18.8 million British visitors, it still dwarfed the number of visitors from second-placed Germany (11.8 million) and third-placed France (10.8 million). Brits also bought more Spanish real estate than any other nationality in the third quarter of 2018.

For Spain’s economy, the tourist industry is arguably as vital as the financial industry is to the UK’s. It accounted for 11.8% of Spain’s GDP in 2018, says Excentur in its latest report. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, Spain’s tourist industry employs, directly or indirectly, 2.8 million people — roughly 15% of the total working population. By contrast, the industry group City UK estimates that the UK’s financial services industry provides some 2.3 million jobs.

But the good times are beginning to fade for Spain’s multiyear mass tourist boom, as we’ve warned a number of times (most recently here and here). After years of double-digit or high single-digit growth the number of foreign visitors to the country grew by a meager 0.9% in 2018 while the number of overnight stays actually fell by 3.4%. For the first time in eight years the tourist sector closed out 2018 with real revenue growth rate (2%) below that of Spain’s GDP (+ 2.5%).

Exceltur calls this “normalization”. After an extended period of runaway expansion that brought with it buckets of money and jobs as well as sky-high prices and rents, overcrowding, noise, overstretched public services and infrastructure, Spain appears to have finally hit “peak tourism.” Last year’s slowdown was also accentuated by the “marked recovery” of cheaper rival destinations in the Eastern Mediterranean such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia. According to Exceltur, these three countries alone attracted 12.5 million more tourists last year.

Now, as the deadline for Brexit approaches and Spain’s two biggest airlines are caught in the cross-hairs, there is a risk that Spain’s tourist industry could suffer a major demand shock just as broader market conditions begin to deteriorate. A very similar threat exists for Germany’s car industry for whom the UK market accounts for 20% of total global exports. Germany’s auto industry representatives’ warnings of the “fatal” consequences of a no-deal Brexit are growing shriller by the day.

With just 70 days left before deadline day, fear is rising on both sides of the English Channel that the UK will unceremoniously crash out of the EU without a deal. Though the economic fallout for the UK is likely to be greater and for that reason tends to grab a lot more of the headlines and attention, it is becoming increasingly clear that many EU Member States and the businesses they harbor are no less ready for a no-holes-barred, no-deal Brexit than their British counterparts. By Don Quijones
 

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  61 comments for “Brexit’s Ironic Twists Hit Spain’s Biggest Industry

  1. Iamafan
    Jan 20, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    I guess they can always use a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to go around man made rules they don’t want to follow. World gone nuts.

    • fajensen
      Jan 21, 2019 at 6:27 am

      Many of these conglomerates have finances organised in the same way as that guy with three coconuts and the pea hawking on La Rambla:

      One pea (representing the profits), those three coconuts sliding about, the tax authorities guessing under which coconut the profits are, all the while the pea/profits are hidden in the hand of the operator (the undisclosed controlling interest in the LLC that legally own the business).

      Delicious to see that to now “take back control”, they have to open the coconuts (the LLC’s) and show the hand of the controlling interests with the pea still in it.

      • Covey
        Jan 21, 2019 at 10:08 am

        And the coconut with the profit under it has the name Ireland or Holland emblazoned in gold!!

        One of the advantages of Brexit is that we will be able to put a stop to transfer pricing and companies who are based in the UK issuing all their invoices in the name of a Dutch company such as UBER. Google issues all its invoices to UK clients through Dublin. This is legal in the EU, but won’t be after Brexit.

        If you sell goods in the UK, you should pay tax in the UK. No more “fulfilment centres” with billing outside the UK. Amazon had a cosy deal with Luxembourg (PM was some chap called Juncker!!) whereby all UK Amazon sales were billed through Luxembourg, although even HMRC had a sense of humor failure and put a stop to the merrygoaround.

  2. Chim Ritchalds
    Jan 20, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    Meh. Spain has been in trouble for a while. Mass unemployment of under-30s, crippling housing costs in major cities, and the most recently elected government has decided to throw up the “refugees welcome” banner and let anyone in who shows up on a boat from Africa…. while also offering them welfare and housing, which they’re paying for by taking on debt.

    The ship is already sinking. Just let it happen.

  3. 2banana
    Jan 20, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    “No one goes there anymore, it’s too crowded…”

    • Jayq9
      Jan 21, 2019 at 8:46 am

      Underappreciated comment…

    • Javert Chip
      Jan 21, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      I went to Barcelona in May…not exactly welcoming.

  4. Ana Thema
    Jan 20, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    Let the chaos unfold. It will all be welcomed by the string pullers. Though I think Brexit will be delayed by a second referendum with three choices:- two types of exit, and one remain. Thus Remain is guaranteed. The 2020 Lisbon Treachery ‘kick-in’ will be the final nail in Blighty’s coffin.

  5. Atu
    Jan 20, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    The UK couldn’t care for its expats, nor tourism abroad unless it affected its interests somehow… Barclays pretty much moved out post GFC so I don’t think there is even any British high street bank functioning in Spain – that is writing on the wall I think, rats fleeing ship and all.

    This

    https://elpais.com/elpais/2019/01/02/inenglish/1546440201_162784.html

    explains more on the ownership of Iberia, economic rights to UK but voting rights to Spain.

    Spain is relying on a positive GDP through this year to keep its budget on track, so Brexit is going to have to be that bad that people start abandoning the UK any which way. It seems the establishment are doing their very best to that end… at least in the foreign press you don’t get the same portrait headlined every day for two years, part of project fear no doubt – dare you look at the front page today or not.

    They want to send everyone nuts, and not as an appetiser.

    Portuguese tourism saw the same levelling off as Spain, but they are not quite so dependent on it I think.

  6. Javert Chip
    Jan 20, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    Brexit has been like watching the Greek debt fiasco a few years ago: day after day after day after day after day of attention-loving politicians yelling END OF THE WORLD, ONCE IN A LIFE_TIME, NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFORE political crap. I have a bad case of political malfeasance fatigue.

    Anything having to do with EU financial management falls off my radar screen pretty quickly. I appreciate DQ’s article, but it sure looks like not many (if any) of the politicians responsible for the EU’s 570 million citizens REALLY understand what is about to happen.

    • R Davis
      Jan 20, 2019 at 8:12 pm

      The fact that SYRIZA was elected was a miracle – let’s face it – the odds were zit that they would ever be elected to office. To my mind it was all contrived – they had been waiting in the wings for just the right moment – to throw in the face of the Greek people “you see even your way does not work.”
      I commented on Prof. As’ad AbuKhalil’s blog that their role was only to deliver the head of Greece on a platter to the EU Lords.
      & wasn’t I right.
      Yanis Varoufakis is known as a melodramatic ham, so the least I expected was – & in true Greek style – tantrums, scufles on the negotiating floor & tears of woe & joy, shouting from the window for all to hear & especially the media – a Greek tragedy of mammoth proportions & what did we get ……………. BORING & well behaved DIDDLY SQUAT !!
      We need to – are we sure that they are really Greek.
      I just wanted my $r’s worth please.

      • R Davis
        Jan 20, 2019 at 8:36 pm

        My youngest son Joseph who passed away recently.
        Was 1/2 Greek –
        We went Xmas tree shopping on evening.
        We wanted a potted tree – a meter high.
        He looked at all the trees & said to the proprietor “how much mate”
        “$30 each” – “Even this one ?” perplexed he looked at the tree & said “yes” – “How come, it’s got one branch less than the others, shouldn’t it be cheaper?”
        They can’t help themselves ..
        When his brother Andrew was buying a car he sent Joe.

  7. hotairmail
    Jan 20, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    I worked out long ago that the Spanish economy was merely an offshoot of the London housing market. If anything bad happens post Brexit, it is through the vindictive, protectionist actions of the EU.

    • R Davis
      Jan 20, 2019 at 7:52 pm

      “vindictive, protectionist, action” – of the EU”
      I see the EU as a cesspool of self interest, run by medieval minds of the days of yore, for their own personal benefits.
      Ah, the elite & aristocratic bottom feeders & their desire of serfdom for one & all of us to keep themselves in a custom to which they feel they deserve.
      Gimmie
      Gimmie
      Gimmie

    • fajensen
      Jan 21, 2019 at 6:31 am

      Sure, it is so bad of the EU that they won’t give poor Great Britain a better deal than they had while being a paying member of “the club”. Honestly!

      Nothing bad has anything to do with British Incompetence at all?

      • Steve Clayton
        Jan 21, 2019 at 9:13 am

        As a Brit Fajenson totally agree with your British incompetence statement. What Brexit has highlighted how poor everything seems to be in the UK. Politicians, food policy, trade to other countries, tax evasion by multinationals, border control, protecting our own interest badly. We’ve done what we’ve always done. Regards Steve.

        • Jeff
          Jan 21, 2019 at 2:35 pm

          Is there anywhere that hasn’t?

      • MD
        Jan 21, 2019 at 12:28 pm

        But the UK IS still a ‘paying member of the club’ until 2020…42 billion Euros I believe.

        Quite a lot of money to pay to a club you’re no longer a member of…

        Never mind, we’ll see how long the project lasts after the UK’s departure…

      • Javert Chip
        Jan 21, 2019 at 8:01 pm

        Why shouldn’t the EU give the UK a better deal when it leaves the EU?

        In fact, all nations outside the EU get a better deal.

        The only nations being hurt by the EU are nations inside the EU. 575 million people tied together by the debts of Italy, Spain, Greece and a couple others, plus German mercantilism is no way to provide common peace & prosperity.

        • fajensen
          Jan 22, 2019 at 5:45 am

          Because the UK is in the end not that precious and deserving of the red-carpet special treatment that seems to be so vividly imagined inside of The Great British Bubble of Exceptionalism.

          In fact, all nations outside the EU get a better deal.

          Fact is, they don’t. This is why there are all of those “red lines” in the transition agreement. The UK just simply cannot abide with any of those supposed “better” standard deals available to “all nations”. The problem being exactly the “all nations”, those deal that others have (and allegedly have) , because that would be “stooping to their level” or something. The UK wants Special, Bond-Street Bespoke Tailor Made Deal (and doesn’t want to pay for it either). Well, the world doesn’t exactly work like that.

          When 2019-03-31 finally rolls in, the bubble of the “narcissist ex” will finally pop and we transition to the “Stalking Phase” in the narcissist grief schedule, because the narcissist can never accept to be dumped.

          It will be interesting to watch. I expect some market volatility.


          The five stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance

          The narcissist 5-stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and stalking – then cycle repeats from random stage.

        • Javert Chip
          Jan 22, 2019 at 11:09 pm

          The Brits will be lucky to get out of that hot steaming financial mess. One man’s opinion.

  8. Jan 20, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    What often happens is that rules that cannot be followed won’t be.

    Regardless of what the EU technically requires, if we hit day one of a crash out Brexit then individual countries will make decisions on what to do. Spain is unlikely to cancel most of it’s Barcelona to Madrid flights, France and Germany will make their own calls as to whether they will enforce grounding of certain flights, and so on.

    What would ensue is not a crash in everything, but a legal murkiness in which companies try to conduct business as usual while government agencies begin to give direction on what to change, often based on national political considerations.

    Note that the EU itself doesn’t have enforcement agencies for all of this stuff, individual countries do. The EU can direct other countries to change in certain ways, but the process takes time – national governments are still left to implement that change.

    One thing I was wondering … A hard border in Northern Ireland is unpopular both in the UK and Ireland. Suppose the UK doesn’t build a customs border, or delays it as much as possible, and Ireland does the same. The EU would have to threaten to cut off Ireland to pressure them to act. They could respond with delaying tactics, possibly with British help. Is this kind of a fight feasible? It seems every country in the EU is fighting with Brussels about something.

    • Jos Oskam
      Jan 21, 2019 at 4:21 am

      @John Taylor, thanks for this refreshing piece of down-to-earth analysis, I couldn’t agree more. I just wish that more people would calm down a bit and refrain from the fire-and-brimstone doom preaching about Brexit.

      Of course, if the UK leaves the EU without a formal agreement, disruptions will occur. But there will also be lots of creative entrepreneurs who will jump into the void with all kinds of “solutions”. Just look at this person who became rich almost overnight selling “Brexit boxes” containing emergency rations. These guys are a lot faster on their feet than the armies of bureaucrats deliberating over formal agreements and contractual nitpicking, and I am sure they will find all kinds of ways around the obstacles resulting from a Brexit crash-out.

      Yes, there will be some inconvenience, maybe even some chaotic occurrences here and there, but by no means the horrifying disasters predicted by Project Fear. I wager that the average man in the street has relatively little to worry about, while the elites might see their comfortable positions and huge incomes more seriously threatened.

      And that of course neatly explains the Brexit fearmongering in the media.

      • fajensen
        Jan 21, 2019 at 6:41 am

        Wrong. The “Average Man” has *everything* to worry about. The Elites don’t give a shit about what happens to him, it is not they who will be bailing out the banks again or be going without because the “Kebab-shop cum Logistics without any Ships” contracted for 37 million GBP by The Elites to Another Elite (paying money to the Tory party) can’t deliver shit (that is also a kind of Entrepreneurship)!.

        Crash-out Brexit means The Elites will collect on their pound short and shorts on the UK property market. Whatever happens, accrues to their accounts in Zurich and most of it comes out of the pocket of “the average man”.

        • Jos Oskam
          Jan 21, 2019 at 7:08 am

          @Fajensen, I do agree that the elites do not care one whit about what happens to the man in the street. However, neither do I believe they have their ducks neatly in a row to profit from what’s going to happen. As far as I can see they have lost control of the narrative and are just as uncertain about future developments as anybody else.

          Contrary to the little man, the elites tend to make big bets on future developments because they feel they can influence them. If to their surprise they discover that this time they can’t, they stand to lose more than Joe Average who, as usual, just gets the short end of a different stick.

        • Jan 21, 2019 at 3:29 pm

          The idea of “Elites” profiting from shorting the pound and real estate makes no sense. Shorting is never mainstream – it is merely a short-term bet that prices will crash. Watch “The Big Short” and you’ll see how difficult and risky shorting can be.

          The “Elites” are the ones who own a lot of assets, and will lose the most in any situation where asset prices fall.
          Ordinary people don’t own homes at today’s valuations – they typically rent at high prices, and often hope to own something some day. They benefit mainly when they can but more with their wages.

        • Juanfo
          Jan 22, 2019 at 11:41 am

          I believe your statement is not entirely accurate. The “average man” lives to service debt. Literally has nothing left to lose. Can’t afford medical care, retirement or housing. Average men everyday off themselves or are left to die under an overpass after another mass layoff in exchange for more gold in modern Henry XVI’s pockets. Don’t get me wrong, I believe the free market is an efficient path to abundance and prosperity but come on something has to give.

    • safe as milk
      Jan 22, 2019 at 9:19 am

      @John Taylor “Suppose the UK doesn’t build a customs border, or delays it as much as possible, and Ireland does the same. The EU would have to threaten to cut off Ireland to pressure them to act.”

      this is exactly what i’ve been thinking. the eu’s bargaining position is what my mother used to call four flushing. that’s when you are playing poker and you bet as if you have a flush because you have four cards of the same suit even though it takes five to make a flush.

      the eu is in no position to tell the uk what to do about setting up the border, they can only demand that ireland have a customs border for goods and people exiting northern ireland. i suppose the eu could send in their military to maintain the border. oh wait, they don’t have a military.

    • Cashboy
      Jan 22, 2019 at 7:08 pm

      I believe that the Irish people would like to leave the EU. It is the Irish government that won’t let Ireland leave the EU.

      The EU has to make it as difficult as possible for the UK to thrive outside the EU otherwise other EU members would opt to leave.

      I actually believe that if the UK leave the EU without a “deal” and don’t pay the Euros 30 Bn , the EU is doomed as it the Euro.

      Unfortunately, The UK government seems to be incompenant and incapable with regard to Brexit and certainly has no interest in the people of the UK.

  9. Gorbachev
    Jan 20, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    Don’t agree with peak tourism.There are fewer safe places

    to visit all the time.Spain is safe and fun.

  10. fjcruiserdxb
    Jan 20, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    The EU is well known for bending the rules at the 11th hour when it suits.

  11. Olivier
    Jan 20, 2019 at 11:42 pm

    @Don Quijones Tourism-wise I guess the situation is the same in Portugal, right? Not so long ago I had cause to research flights to Faro from Germany and I was astonished to find that seemingly half the flights in and out of Portugal were from or to the UK, although perhaps I shouldn’t have been since the two countries have long enjoyed very close ties.

    • Jan 21, 2019 at 4:36 am

      Olivier,

      You’re right, a very similar trend is happening in Portugal. The number of foreign tourists visiting the country slipped slightly in the first 10 months of this year — the first cumulative decline after years of record figures.

      https://www.reuters.com/article/portugal-economy-tourism/portugals-tourist-arrivals-dip-after-record-run-idUSL8N1YJ40P

      • MooMoo
        Jan 21, 2019 at 11:49 am

        Forget “tourism”. There are whole segments of Spain that rely on full-time British residency for their survival

        You really think the Spanish government would boot them if Brexit goes through?

        No way.

        Its another reason why the EU cannot function properly. Its rife with contradictions. Italy/Hungary/Poland are no a functioning opposition to the Franco-German duopoly.

        • fajensen
          Jan 22, 2019 at 6:01 am

          Its another reason why the EU cannot function properly. Its rife with contradictions

          Thats like saying that an ecosystem cannot function properly because of biodiversity.

          If everyone have the same point of view, follow the exact same policies, have the same ideas and execute identical strategies, then when the conditions change, they all fail in the same way and at the same time! Like the stupid banks!!

          The contradictions are needed because they will become new centres of stability when conditions change. We trade present-day efficiency for longer-term robustness.

    • HMG
      Jan 22, 2019 at 12:44 am

      I seem to recall that highly leveraged Spanish ‘Financialisation’ Companies supported by Santander Bank are significant shareholders and investors in major UK airports.

      Are we likely to see the ‘cash cow’ multi storey airport car parks standing empty for a while ?

      Could UK investors buy the airports back on the cheap ?

  12. HMG
    Jan 21, 2019 at 2:31 am

    Another fascinating Brexit week ahead.

    Mrs May only wants to compromise with people with whom she already agrees.
    Focus on the money. Whoever gets the £39bn+ wins.
    If the EU get it they win. If UK gets to keep it (even if only until the end of the transition) then UK wins.

    As an extra note. Nowhere in the 585 pages can I see a mention of £39bn or €44bn. The amount UK has to pay has to be calculated in due course. I think the £39bn is a current day estimate. If it is estimated (as has been the cost of HS2 ! ) then the final figure is likely to far exceed this. Why isn’t a €50bn cap put in the agreement so this estimated figure cannot escalate beyond control when the EU experts inevitably find endless additional sums that the UK is liable for.

    • Covey
      Jan 21, 2019 at 4:36 am

      Those of us who have actually read the Withdrawal Agreement have noted that the £39Bn is not detailed in the WA. Instead there is a series of vague clauses stating that the EU will bill the UK for our alleged liabilities and we will sent them the money.

      Nowhere is it detailed what these liabilities are and when they are due to be paid. During the negotiations it was said by the EU that we owed money to the EU for the contingent liability arising for a possibility that an EU Member State might default on its borrowing’s from the Development Fund and therefore the other Members would be responsible for making the repayment.

      No EU Member has yet to default, but the EU require that the UK pays IN CASH the amount which we could be liable for, and then the EU would refund the money over the next 25 years as the contingent liability reduces!!

      Even when I guarantee my son’s overdraft at his bank, my liability under that guarantee only crystallises were he to actually default. My contingent liability for the sum of his overdraft provides “comfort” for the bank, but not cash (hopefully!!)

      • HMG
        Jan 21, 2019 at 5:08 am

        At least one other contributor to Wolfstreet has attempted to read the agreement then.

        I think the section you are referring to is a clause where we have to pay 12 x Euro 300 million = 3.6 billion. Strangely I could not see in the clause if this was monthly or annually.

        These amounts were not connected to the estimated £39bn and this specific amount was the only mention of any exact amounts of money that I could find in the whole agreement.

        There were however many listed costs around Pensions and forward commitments that are in the agreement but have not been quantified. It lays the groundwork for several years of disagreement between civil servants from both sides with not obvious dispute resolution method.

        • Covey
          Jan 21, 2019 at 9:16 am

          The EU Pensions deficit is huge and the pension accounts are a total dogs breakfast, and getting worse week by week.

          Even the Brexiteers seem unable to produce a schedule of what we are due to pay and when. Presumably it does exist for someone to calculate that we are due to pay £39bn. We have to pay in Euro’s so that the EU avoids exchange rate risks.

          I did hear a TM speech when she mentioned that part of the £39bn was the EU fee for the transition period, but it is all very vague. You are absolutely correct in saying that it will lead to endless arguments.

          I would recommend that subscribers to WolfStreet download and read the Withdrawal Agreement. It is a guaranteed cure for insomnia!! If you make it past page 10 and your eyes are still open, seek medical help!

        • HMG
          Jan 21, 2019 at 12:20 pm

          Yes Covey…Everything has to be paid in Euros. I highlighted that as well. Not so much to avoid exchange rate risk maybe….rather to prevent the Bank of England just ‘printing’ the money.

          As we both would surely agree nobody should be allowed to express their opinion as to what they want to happen with regard to Brexit unless they actually confirm they have read through the agreement.

          Basing such an important decision as this on information heard from someone else, who probably has also not read the agreement is the road to ruin.

          You do not have to be a lawyer or accountant to realise after reading just a few dozens pages that it is a very one sided agreement that will leave the UK totally at the EU’s mercy for a up to decade to come..

        • Steppenwolf
          Jan 21, 2019 at 1:54 pm

          Englishmen sure know a thing or two about one-sided agreements. Doubtful they are against them in principle.

        • Javert Chip
          Jan 21, 2019 at 8:13 pm

          Excellent point Steppenwolf.

          With one-sided agreements, it’s one thing to be quick enough to write one…enforcing them is a different matter. Brit have had extended periods of being very good at both.

  13. MC01
    Jan 21, 2019 at 2:45 am

    It’s amazing at what depths lobbyists will sink to get even more than the already highly favorable treatment they receive from governments.

    Exceltur should perhaps have added that in spite of the Cold War mummies have risen from their pyramid in Brussels to stalk the land once again, Spain remains a hot destination for Russian nationals. So hot in fact that during high season (May to September) Rossiya Airlines, an Aeroflot subsidiary, runs the Moscow Vnukovo-Barcelona El Prat route daily with their Boeing 747-400. Right now Aeroflot itself runs a daily flight from Sheremetyevo to Tenerife using their Airbus A330-300 and will start a new direct daily flight from Sheremetyevo to Palma de Mallorca on June 1.

    In spite of the Russophobic hysteria, which media in Spain do their fair bit to propagate, it seems the Spanish tourism industry found a way to keep on doing business with Russian customers, and to do so without rising the ires of all the people who think this is still 1979.

    Now I’ll wait for some of that aforementioned hysteria.

    • Javert Chip
      Jan 21, 2019 at 8:16 pm

      MC01

      Please do not tell the American MSM ANYTHING about this Spanish Russian stuff.

    • HMG
      Jan 22, 2019 at 1:28 pm

      If we “Leave” will Russia get more favourable treatment by Spain than Britain ??

  14. ian
    Jan 21, 2019 at 3:52 am

    Wolf,
    Whilst we’re on the subject of the EU and Spain, do you have any thoughts about Target2, the eurozone banks clearing system? I believe Germany is currently owed almost a trillion euros, mostly from Spain and Italy.

    • Jan 21, 2019 at 10:13 am

      Germans used to fret over this, back in 2011 and 2012. And some still do, but it’s complicated and boring, and has moved off the agenda, it seems. Imbalances can be carried forward for a long time, but sooner or later something will have to give. Meanwhile, let’s do business as usual… that seems to be the consensus.

  15. Covey
    Jan 21, 2019 at 4:13 am

    There are all sorts of “unintended consequences” for Spain in the Brexit scenario.

    I am currently based on a campsite near Malaga where my motor home and I spend 6 months of the year avoiding the UK winter. There are about 30 Brits here who do the same, and some have been coming for 10+ years.

    We are all retired, most have wives/significant other halves and generally enjoy life. We tend to eat out 4 times a week in local restaurants, shop in Spanish supermarkets and after a lifetime of working, life here is good.

    Until Brexit came along and the possibility of a no-deal exit from the EU. Spain has said that UK citizens who have residents permits are fine and tourists can enter the EU for a period of 90 days in any 180 days. That 90 day limit is the problem!!

    If the 90 day limit continues, then most of the “travelling”Brits will stop coming to Spain for the winter as it is not worth the effort for 90 days and the cost of hauling ourselves from Dover to Southern Spain becomes expensive for just 90 days.

    There are probably as many Brits in Spain who live here almost full time but who don’t have a Residencia, as actually do. They have property here but go back to the UK frequently (mainly to see the Grandchildren!!) They will have a problem and I know of many who have placed their flats on the market as the future is so uncertain.

    In addition, Spanish threats regarding Gibraltar make Brits nervous and when Andalusia relies on the tourist industry and its Brits, Spain needs to be a lot more careful in what it says and does.

    I voted for Brexit and accept that my decision has consequences, but that is life!!

    • Bobby Dale
      Jan 21, 2019 at 7:57 am

      Would a trip to Gibraltar suffice as your Schengen exit?

      • Covey
        Jan 21, 2019 at 9:23 am

        We have been wondering that, but the Spanish have a habit of making life difficult for those driving in to Gib, so most visitors walk across the border.

        The Schengen Rule states 90 days in any one period of 180 days. Nobody is sure if they would allow a back to back stay and I doubt it will be sorted out in time to save the autumn “season” this year. I am off to the USA (without motorhome!) and will stay there whilst it is warm down south.

        • Covey
          Jan 21, 2019 at 9:55 am

          For clarification:: We assume that the 180 day window starts on the day we enter the EU, so the reality seems to be that we can do 90 days and then have to leave the EU for 90 days before we can return to the EU and start the 180 day cycle again.

          Given that EU rules also state that visitors who bring a vehicle in to the EU cannot leave the vehicle behind if they leave the EU for whatever reason. EU rules also state that if you remain in an EU country with a vehicle for more than 180 days, your vehicle must change its registration status from being say UK registered to being Spanish registered. Hey Ho!!

        • char
          Jan 22, 2019 at 8:17 am

          I expect that Americans/Canadians have the same rules applied to them as post-Brexit Britains so ask them..

  16. Timothy Julian
    Jan 21, 2019 at 6:19 am

    They may well be Spain´s two biggest airlines but how many people from the UK actually fly with them? I would have thought Ryanair, Easyjet, TUI & Thomas Cook etc would carry the great majority.

    & who flies from Madrid to Barcelona/Alicante/Málaga??????????? The AVE is far, far quicker!!!!

    • MooMoo
      Jan 21, 2019 at 7:20 am

      Yes. True.

  17. MooMoo
    Jan 21, 2019 at 7:23 am

    It is increasingly evident that there is no “reforming” the EU. No “compromise” with the EU and that the EU is there to serve a very limited set of interests (and those who benefit from it).

    It is also evident that there is now an open rebellion taking place from WITHIN the EU.

    Italy/Hungary/Poland are now organizing an official opposition to Franco-German rule.

    This idea of an EU was the stupidest idea ever. It is time to end it.

    The pro-EU crowd have their little dream, and it is pure fantasy. Those who see the EU for what it is – dangerously authoritarian and incapable of uniting the “un-unitable” have 600 years of history on their side.

  18. Gershon
    Jan 21, 2019 at 8:19 am

    With the ECB’s “No Billionaire Left Behind” monetary policies, the EU’s insistence on open borders and uncontrolled immigration, and the oligarchy’s unfettered looting and asset-stripping of the productive economy and bottom 95%, is it any wonder the so-called “far right” is on the rise in Spain and across Europe?

  19. c smith
    Jan 21, 2019 at 9:41 am

    “…the two airlines, together with the Spanish government, have been trying to convince the European Commission that they are more Spanish than they are British, but seemingly to little avail…” Of course there will be no “convincing”. The EU knows where their greatest leverage points lie, and they will use them. By the same token, Brits spend more in the EU than they earn, and the EU will feel it when Brexit happens, no doubt.

  20. HMG
    Jan 21, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    No pain, no gain .

  21. Jan 21, 2019 at 3:21 pm

    There is no way that this will ever happen. Scary childish bullshit. If the planes were from Liberia or something then perhaps the EU would have a point. Before 2001 I used to fly on LOT and Czech Airlines to the UK and they were not in the EU.

    Do they really think they are going to paralyze a nation of 65 million people with such nonsense?

    • Covey
      Jan 22, 2019 at 4:33 am

      The UK side of the Brexit negotiations do not “do threats” as part of the negotiating policy. Hardly a day goes by without some EU politician threatening that planes won’t fly, lorries won’t deliver, the sky will fall in and the sun won’t shine.

      Despite all the grief the Irish are causing the UK on the backstop, you don’t hear UK politicians threatening that the 600 truck a day that use the UK as their road bridge to the Continent will have to find an alternative route.

      You don’t hear daily threats that EU fishing fleets will be banned from fishing in UK waters after 29th March19.

      The EU is trying to ignore the problems caused by losing the UK financial contribution, and are desperate to get their hands on the £39bn to help prop up their dream.

      Remind me again, why did 17.4m voters from the worlds 5th largest economy, and a nuclear power, decide that we did not wish to remain in the EU?

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