Johnny’s In The Basement, Mixing Up The Medicine

Oh my goodness, two stories here today, one slightly dated.

The first story comes from Mediafax, so you can choose your language (English or Romanian):

Finnish mobile giant Nokia could lay off about 120 employees from its Research and Development Center in Cluj, central Romania, and the center will be shut down by the end of the third quarter, part of the group’s strategy to align its global workforce and consolidate site operations.

My goodness, what’s that sound? Ah, yes I recognize it now. It’s the sound of jobs being flushed down the toilet in my fair city. It’s starting to sound like a waterfall around here.

The linked article goes on to note that the main production facility, which is in Jucu (in county Cluj – not the city of Cluj), will remain open. But I do note that exactly one week ago The Lord of Cluj was bragging about how much good Nokia was doing for the city and here they are announcing that they are shutting down ALL operations.

Ah well…

Meanwhile here’s his reaction (Ro) via my translation:

The mayor of Cluj Napoca, Sorin Apostu, said that he had only recently been informed of the company’s decision. “I wasn’t told about it. I haven’t even spoken to them because their main headquarters is not in Cluj,” said the mayor. Apostu says that Nokia only had one request of the city government: to relocate the gypsies who were begging behind the research center. “I resolved the problem and I moved them. I don’t know what [Nokia’s] press release says,” stated the mayor.

Way to stay on top of things!

And in case you think poor old Nokia is closing down the center in Cluj due to lack of business:

Nokia posted a 1.4% in net profit in the first quarter of 2011, to EUR344 million. Its net sales increased 9% in the first quarter, to EUR10.4 billion.

The mobile giant’s Devices & Services division posted a 6% growth in sales, to EUR7.1 billion, while Nokia Siemens Networks posted a 17% increase in sales, to EUR3.2 billion.

In unrelated news, I found one more article (Ro) on the topic I’ve been writing about for a while, Wizz Air’s decision to transfer most of its flight into Cluj to Targu-Mures.

My translation into English (and I do note that there’s a misspelling in the original Romanian – jeesh!):

Two Companies Are Bidding For Wizz Air’s Cluj-Rome Route

Wizz Air recently announced its plans to move some of its routes from Cluj-Napoca International Airport to Targu-Mures Airport because of the increased fees charged to the company by the Cluj airport.

“The good news is that when they [Wizz Air] freed up the [Cluj to] Rome route, two companies have expressed interest in taking over that route,” said the president of Cluj County Council, Mr. Alin Tise.

“We asked nothing of them [Wizz Air] but to pay the same [rates] as they charge in Timisoara or Harghita. It’s the same price they were receiving back when the [Cluj] County Council was subsidizing the airport at a cost of 10 euros per passenger. All we wanted was that the airlines would begin covering that cost, not for us to make a profit,” said Mr. Tise.

If the County Council decided to continue the subsidies for Wizz Air, it would have to do the same for all of the other airlines (and they’ve already accepted the new fees) that fly into the [Cluj] International Airport, which would’ve been very difficult to accommodate in the County’s budget after it invested a lot of money in modernizing the airport.

“According to the information we’ve received, they [Wizz Air] had already made the decision to move on June 1 anyway, but when we announced that the subsidies would stop, they rushed to move their operations [to Targu Mures]. The decision that the [Cluj] Airport director made was the right one and I support it,” said the president of the Cluj County Council.

Wow! What a bunch of nasty propaganda. I like how he constantly refers to Cluj’s airport as the international one when obviously the airport in Targu-Mures is equally international in nature. And I also like how he never once mentions the actual company Wizz Air by name.

Again, let’s review. Wizz Air is a private company. They can and will do whatever it is they like if they think it will make them money. They don’t owe anything to anyone in the Romanian government or the Cluj airport or the Cluj County government. There’s absolutely no reason to insult them and call them names.

Secondly, yes the airport has to charge all the airlines the same rate. If they want to subsidize the cost, the government has to apply the same rates fairly to all airlines. It’s the law. Quit complaining about it as if it were some unfair imposition.

Third, quit complaining about the cost. Yes, the Cluj County government spent a lot of money modernizing the airport. But why? Why go to all the incredible expense to modernize the airport if you’re going to stop subsidizing the landing fees? If you can’t afford to do both then don’t complain when you lose business. An empty, brand new airport is of far less value than an older airport that does lots of business, don’t you think?

Fourth, the fees that airports charge airlines is based on the weight of the aircraft not the number of passengers. Yes, it seems that the Mures County government is subsidizing the landing fees but they’re doing it based on the weight of the aircraft, not a per-passenger fee. Why? Because the actual costs incurred by an airport involve wear and tear on the runways by the planes themselves.

And why in the world is it so costly to let these planes land? They pay for their own fuel and services. They pay their own employees to do the ticketing and other things like that. The employees of the airport run the tower (admittedly important), maintain the runways, maintain the building (including the bathrooms) and handle the baggage. That’s about it. We’re not talking the world’s most expensive operation here.

Quite simply put, my cat Noodles has better business sense than Mr. Alin Tise and Mr. David Ciceo, and she eats money if you leave it lying on the table. Clearly these two are regular drinkers of the unicorn dust and truly believed that for-profit corporations will continue to come to Cluj no matter what. So they gambled all their money on upgrading the airport, failed to develop any in-airport businesses, and then jacked up the rates. And now they’re crying over how “unfair” it all is.

Sigh… well at least now you know the “secret recipe” for being a Romanian politician. First, never, ever admit a mistake on your part or accept responsibility for your foolish decisions. And secondly, always blame someone else for your problems.

And which airlines exactly are so “excited” to take over the Cluj-Rome route? Did he mention them? Nah, I didn’t think so. Sounds nice for the fawning press release in the newspaper but I’ll believe it when I see it.