From doomsday to Bloomsday

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.
Martin Moodie

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After month upon month of calamitously low passenger numbers, the UK has reached the bizarre situation of one of its busiest airports being forced to reduce the number of flights it will permit during the peak summer season.

The airport in question is London Gatwick, which announced this week that the number of daily flights will be reduced to 825 in July and 850 in August, down from the previous 900.

Click on the image to read how BBC reported the Gatwick Airport decision

The reason? Staff shortages, one of the country’s post-pandemic (or more accurately, post-peak pandemic), post-Brexit scourges. The situation is particularly acute for ground handling and airline staff.

What an ungodly mess and from a travel retail perspective – a sector that also faces many staff challenges – it is to be hoped that some kind of normality will prevail as the peak season arises. I’ll check out the situation at Heathrow Airport myself tomorrow morning as I head to Geneva and then onto Neuchatel. I won’t be taking any chances on timing, especially as I want to check out the restaurants and shops, so I plan to arrive extra early.

After some 11 months away, I’ve been back in the UK for 11 days, time to feel the somewhat dysfunctional rhythm of the country and to catch up with family, colleagues and even some long-time travel retail friends.

The pandemic has a lot to answer for. Almost unbelievably this was the first time I had caught up with Jonathan ‘Chaps’ Holland and Eleen Holland, two of my closest friends in the business, for more than two and a half years.

We closed our London headquarters in 2020 as the pandemic raged and with our (now growing again) team cast far and wide, there has seemed little point in reopening it, although that might change as flexibility of thought and action has been our watchword throughout this crisis.

My week-long stay in Pontardawe allowed me to meet our Subscriptions and Administration Manager Kristyn Branisel for the first time while in a couple of weeks the team from all over the country will gather in London for a staff day and a long overdue staff party – our first since Christmas 2019. It should be a belter.

With (left) Kristyn Branisel and Sinead Moodie at The Moodie Davitt Report’s temporary Pontardawe epicentre

I’m staying in Brentford, long-time home to various Moodie Davitt headquarters down the years (we still own a building there, the Old Pumping Station pictured below), spending some quality time with my son Declan, who is also our Digital Content Editor.

Memories of days gone by: The Old Pumping Station in Brentford, headquarters for The Moodie Davitt Report between 2012 and 2015, now leased out to prominent tea company Teapigs. Will the post-pandemic era see a return to our splendid Brentford home?

Declan put together a beautiful film last week to celebrate Bloomsday, a special day in Irish and worldwide literary history.

Inside my Interim Pontardawe Bureau, with a taoscán or two of Writers’ Tears to keep the inspiration flowing

Bloomsday honours Irish writer James Joyce’s epic work Ulysses, a masterpiece published 100 years ago in 1922. The novel tells, in notoriously rollicking style, the tale of people going about their lives on a single day in Dublin – 16 June 1904. Each 16 June, Joyce aficionados in Ireland and all around the world celebrate the book in style.

Together with Walsh Whiskey, producer of the beautifully named (and beautiful tasting) Writers’ Tears Irish whiskey, we asked a range of Irish women and men from the travel retail community to each read an excerpt from Ulysses. What oratory talents are on show here. And what a lovely way to celebrate the great man himself. Take a listen to the reading directly below.

I have always seen travel retail as a homage to internationalism, a cross-roads of humanity. So it’s important always to reflect multiple cultures and capture in words, images, video and more the sense of place that underpins (or should) each and every location and story we cover.

On Bloomsday 2022 I felt we did exactly that, a welcome change in tone and voice from the travel, economic and political headlines that seem to dominate the mainstream media here. For those, the term doomsday seems more appropriate.

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