Manx government refuse request to halt possible Saudi aircraft training

A disappointing response from the Manx (Isle of Mann) Chief Minister over our request that he ask the RAF to preclude Saudi Air Force personnel training on Hawk aircraft at RAF Valley in Wales from utilising the Isle of Man Civil Airport at Ronaldsway for ‘touch and go’ landings. He sets out the government’s reasoning in the correspondence below.

Obviously I welcome the Manx government’s commitment to aid to Yemen as outlined in the final paragraph of the letter. However quite frankly that aid would not be needed if Yemen civilians were not being bombed by RSAF personnel most of whom trained at both RAF Valley and utilised Ronaldsway Civil Airport in the manner indicated.

A reply from the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence to our separate query is still awaited.

The letter from Isle of Man Chief Minister Howard Quayle MHK is set out below:

“Dear Mr Moffatt,

“Thank you for your email of 5th April 2019 relating to the use of Isle of Man Airport for military training purposes.

The Airport accepts aircraft for training from all types of aircraft operator including military aircraft, as is normal for any commercial airport. Training flights do attract fees, and this is normally around 25% of a full landing fee for each ‘touch and go’ approach.

“In addition to the financial income, it is especially helpful for aircraft to use our Airport for training as without these training flights, the time required by recently recruited Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCOs) to build up their minimum experience hours before taking an exam, passing, and then being allowed to control standalone (solely), would take potentially months longer. This is important to ensuring the Island has a sufficient number of fully-trained ATCOs at the Airport.

“Whether the pilot(s) belong to the RAF or the Air Force of another country training with the RAF is not part of the information provided to the Airport when a training flight is arranged. We would therefore not be in a position to prohibit RAF training flights piloted by personnel from the Royal Saudi Air Force. Even if such information was provided it could prove to be contrary to the Island’s Equality Act to do this as the Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of a person’s nationality, with such status falling within the protected characteristic of race.

“As you know, as a British Crown Dependency, under the Island’s constitutional relationship with the United Kingdom through the Crown, the UK is constitutionally responsible for the Island’s defence and international relations. The relationship with Saudi Arabia in respect of defence and other matters is therefore a matter for the UK Government.

“The ongoing civil war in Yemen with the resulting loss of life and destruction in that country is very sad. It is the policy of the Council of Ministers that the Cabinet Office should provide International Development funding in response to Disasters Emergency Committee appeals, and I strongly support our decision to provide £192,722.31 in total towards the DEC-coordinated response to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and £81,989 to the British Red Cross for emergency care in Hajjah, Yemen.

Kind regards

Hon Howard Quayle MHK
Chief Minister”

Image: A child injured in RSAF bombing -the UN have said the bombing could constitute a war crime.

Bernard Moffatt

Celtic League Military Monitoring

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