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January 2017 update by Chairman, Ray Burrows

Isn’t it ironic after my optimistic comments last month about the political scene changing for the better, suddenly, in the time it takes to burn a wood pellet’, everything disappears down the plug-hole and yet again chaos reigns! I wouldn’t mention it at all save for the fact that the final outcome may influence the decision with regard to our proposed Open Days later in the year.


It’s all-change too, down at GBBCA! The present owner EISER Finance Ltd is selling the assets to 3i Funds which itself is managed by 3i Investment Plc. The decision to sell has been accompanied by the decision to lift the cap on seat sales, so what does this mean for

GBBCA? The airport as it is cannot handle ‘bigger’ aircraft, but it could handle more ‘same size’ aircraft, which could leave the door open for more flights, new routes and more new airlines! The one thing you can almost certainly be assured of is that a profit is being made by someone. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the talks with the ‘noise lobby’ and whether or not the new owners will invest in the airport... watch this space.


Another sale which has almost slipped by unnoticed was that of Thompson Aero Seating based at the Seagoe Industrial Estate in Portadown. The Company is recognised as cutting edge in the provision of premium business-class, full flat-bed airline seating. It has been sold to Chinese state-owned business AVIC – I can’t help but wonder how long before the technology is transferred to China, to be followed soon after by the jobs! Personally, I have always been amazed at the number of small firms which are actively engaged in the aviation business here; perhaps someone out there could do a detailed article on the subject?


Despite the uncertainty surrounding our own events I am pleased to be able to report that both the airshows at Newcastle and Portrush are already in the planning stage and if things go as planned, we will again have a presence at both. Closer to home we have heard rumours that the RUAS Balmoral Show, which takes place at the Maze/Long Kesh site will be adding a fourth day ie; running Wednesday – Saturday inclusive. Our participation at this show has become one of our annual major fundraisers and of course with it being on our doorstep, reduces the logistics involved to a minimum. We have of course had our own success lately, becoming No1 on the Lisburn Trip Advisor – ‘ Things To Do’ with no fewer than 70 hits, 69 of which are rated as ‘Excellent’ and one at ‘Very Good’, surely if ever an indication was needed that we have something rather special to show people, this is it?


Here’s to a brighter, bigger and better 2017.

A happy, healthy 2017 to all our members, supporters and our many friends both at home and abroad. I know the season is supposedly one of joy and laughter but please spare a thought for those members who haven’t had a particularly good 2016 – if you’re recovering or hoping to, then the sentiments expressed in my opening line are even more meaningful.