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CRISIS

Spanish air force spends big on VIP catering

Spain's Ministry of Defence plans to splash out over €300,000 on in-flight meals for Spain's bigwigs over the next 12 months.

Spanish air force spends big on VIP catering
Food for VIPs travelling on Spain's own Air Force One is a step above the soggy buns most passengers have to endure. Photo: Rafa Rivas/AFP

The Spanish air force isn't letting the crisis put a dent in its in-flight service.

The airborne wing of Spain's military has put aside a cool €321,250 for a year's worth of food on VIP flights for King Juan Carlos, Mariano Rajoy and other Spanish VIPs, 20 Minutos reported.

Companies have until the end of April to bid for the catering on flights operated by Spain's 45 Air Force Group, the unit of the Spanish air force that shuttles the country's head honchos around. 

Food and drink on the flights won't be the usual soggy rolls, bland curries and flat beer, though.

The winning catering firm has the go-ahead to fork out up to €250 for a kilo of top-grade Iberian ham under the contract conditions. The air force is also ready to spend up to €100 a kilo on the lower quality 'cebo' ham.

Other tasty dishes on the sky menu include cochinillo a la segoviana, or Segovian style suckling pig, Bilbao style sea bass and duck liver paté with loin of Iberian ham.

Breakfast on Spain's equivalent of Air Force One will be a pretty ritzy affair as well, with freshly-pressed orange juice coming in at €8 a litre, or about four times what that product would cost in a Spanish supermarket.

Spain's 20 Minutos reported this was not the first time on-board catering for Spain's leaders had been questioned.

"We need more whisky and wine," Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy is alleged to have said during a flight in September 2012.

The report in Intervíu also said that the average booze bill on these exclusive flights was a dizzying €1,000. 

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CAT

Catalan leader accuses Spain of ‘worst attack’ since Franco

Catalonia's leader accused Madrid on Saturday of waging the "worst attack" on his region since dictator Francisco Franco after the central government took drastic measures to stop it from breaking away.

Catalan leader accuses Spain of 'worst attack' since Franco
Pro-independence demonstrators in Barcelona on October 21st 2017. Photo: AFP

In a televised announcement, Carles Puigdemont said Madrid was failing to respect the rule of law after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced he would move to dismiss Catalonia's separatist executive, take control of regional ministries and call elections. The premier said he had no other choice faced with the threat to national unity.

Puigdemont said the measures were “incompatible with a democratic attitude and do not respect the rule of law,” calling on the regional parliament to meet over the crisis.

He accused the Spanish government, which still has to get approval from the Senate to implement the measures, of waging “the worst attack on institutions and Catalan people since the decrees of military dictator Francisco Franco abolishing the Catalan government”.

Franco ruled Spain with an iron fist from 1939 to his death in 1975, and among other repressive measures took Catalonia's powers away and officially banned the Catalan language.

Cautious, though, Puigdemont did not once say the word “independence” as Spain and the rest of the EU waits to see if he declares a unilateral break from Spain after the region held a banned independence referendum on October 1st.


Carles Puigdemont. Photo: AFP

Puigdemont delivered most of his short speech in Catalan, but also switched to Spanish and English.

In Spanish, he accused Madrid of “attacking democracy”.

And in English, he said European values were at risk.

“Democratically deciding the future of a nation is not a crime,” he said.

Led by Puigdemont, 450,000 supporters of independence protested in Barcelona on Saturday, shouting “freedom” and “independence” after Madrid announced drastic measures to stop the region from breaking away.

“It's time to declare independence,” said Jordi Balta, a 28-year-old stationery shop employee, adding there was no longer any room for dialogue.

The protest in the centre of the Catalan capital had initially been called to push for the release of the leaders of two hugely influential grassroots independence organisations, accused of sedition and jailed pending further investigation.

But it took on an even angrier tone after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced his government would move to dismiss the region's separatist government, take control of its ministries and call fresh elections in Catalonia.

Municipal police said 450,000 people rallied on Barcelona's large Paseo de Gracia boulevard, spilling over on to nearby streets, many holding Catalonia's yellow, red and blue Estelada separatist flag.

READ ALSO: Spain to dismiss Catalonia's government, call elections