Palma is a very profitable airport. | Efe (Enric Fontcuberta)

Between January and September, the three airports in the Balearics - Palma, Ibiza, Mahon - generated twenty per cent of the Aena airports authority's operating profit.

The Aena network in Spain comprises 46 airports (plus two heliports). The Spanish government has a 51% share of the airports authority; 49% was privatised in 2015. The profit for the nine months was just short of 500 million euros - 499.2 million - and the contribution from the airports in the Balearics was higher than had been anticipated because of what has been a positive tourism season.

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The three airports registered 33.9 million passengers over the nine months; almost half of these passengers were in the third quarter. The Palma control centre was the only one in the whole of Spain to have recorded an increase in air traffic from July to September.

Palma Son Sant Joan is generally the third busiest airport in Spain after Madrid-Barajas and Barcelona-El Prat. Historically, it is one of the most profitable, if not the most profitable airport.

The profit and volume of traffic have to be considered in the context of ongoing discussion in Mallorca and the Balearics regarding overpopulation. The regional government, whether of the right or the left, has long sought a co-management arrangement, especially for Palma. This was raised once more during Tuesday's debate in the Balearic parliament about overpopulation. For the government, co-management is seen as a means of controlling the number of flights.