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Gibraltar to Spain ferry resumes service after 40 years

Sun 20th Dec 2009

The Gibraltar Spain Ferry reopened on Wednesday, 40 years after it was closed by the Spanish dictatorship of Francisco Franco due to disputes over the contested British colony.

A 150-seat catamaran, the made the initial half-hour crossing from the port of Algeciras in Cadiz to the island just off the Southern Coast of Spain. The Spanish operator, Transcoma will be providing a daily service aimed at tourists as well workers employed on the Island.

The service was cut by Franco's government in 1969 at a time of increasing restrictions against the British colony, which also resulted in the closure of the land frontier which did not fully reopen until 1985.

The re-connection was the result of talks between Britain, Gibraltar and Spain in July as part of ongoing forum which seeks to establish areas of cooperation between Gibraltar and Madrid.

A Spokesman on behalf of the Spanish Government stated "Spain is confident that this example of local cooperation serves the forum's objective to promote economic and social development of Gibraltar and the area of Spain around Gibraltar" and went on to report how the new link was expected to serve over 500,000 thousand travelers per year.

The first service included dignitaries such as Luis Felipe Fernandez de la Pena, director general for foreign policy at the Spanish foreign ministry, and Maria Isabel Durantes Gil, director general for commercial shipping at the Spanish development ministry and they were officially met at the port by Gibraltar's transport and deputy chief minister Joe Holliday.

The only current links to Gibraltar include a ferry from Tangiers in Morroco or a flight from the Spanish Airline through service provider Air Andalus, and this was only allowed to resume just 3 years ago.

BA cancelled its Madrid to Gibraltar service in September 2007, after less than 12 months operation, due to what it said were "operating restrictions" at both airports, and Spanish Airline, Iberia, stopped its service last year for what it said were "commercial reasons".

Over the last few weeks there have been several confrontations between the Royal Navy and Spain's Civil Guard in the waters surrounding the island, and earlier this month Police detained four Civil Guard officers who had chased two suspected drug smugglers into its territorial waters.

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