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Opening hours of shops

Dear Sir,
Our editor Jason Moore cites the limited opening hours of the shops in Majorca as losing us winter tourists as well as cruise and weekend break holidaymakers (Daily B, Sunday 27 August). I agree but the effects on people like me, who can have a variety of urgent jobs to do, can also be highly adverse. Many of these jobs don’t fall in the 15 hours per week that everything is open.

Some may question my claim that for only 9% of the week Majorca is at full bore but consider - some operations don’t swing into action till 10 a.m. (e.g. large supermarkets) while at 1 p.m. we start the siesta. Other establishments start early and work straight through closing for the day at 2pm. Factor in weekend closures, different winter/summer hours, reduced opening during fiestas, plus our lethargic August and my estimate of 91% partial shutdown could be an under estimate.

Like the Civil Service the hours chosen can be more for the convenience of the staff than their clients. A typical example is the shop catering for DIY customers who close on weekends and public holidays when their DIY clients have the time off to DIY their homes.

Mike Lillico
Playa de Palma

Night curfew at Palma Airport

Dear Sir,
The controversy regarding night flights into and out of Palma airport has attracted a lot of attention. Maybe by stating a few, perhaps hitherto unstated facts the problem will be better understood.

A check on the actual number of flights into and out of the airport over the busy 24 hours from midday 26 to midday 27 August reveals that 420 flights landed and an equal number departed, making a total of 840 aircraft movements in that 24 hour period. The number of nighttime movements in that same period, i.e. between 11pm and 6am was 67, albeit 39 of these movements were before midnight.

Should it be decided to restrict flying over the ‘night’ period, known as a night curfew, and many airports throughout the world do this, then the total of 840 movements would need to arrive or depart in the 17 hours period outside of the night curfew, thus giving an hourly movement rate of just under 50 per hour. An efficient and well laid out international airport with two functioning runways, such as Palma, can quite easily cope with over 80 movements per hour (London Heathrow averages 87 per hour in summer and copes well with 99 per hour at peak times and has recorded 112 per hour in one instance). Heathrow also has to allow extra time for the movement of very heavy aircraft which cause air disturbance when they take-off, known as wake turbulence. Most aircraft using Palma do not come in this category.

The problem of night flights lies with the airlines who, in order to maximise profit, try to make maximum use of their aircraft. Aircraft sitting on the ground overnight, or any time for that matter, do not produce revenue: aircraft only generate revenue when they fly. Unlike the family car, it is expensive to keep an aircraft on the ground for any length of time. The night curfew can be broken by aircraft which have suffered an unexpected delay. However, the number of times an airline can exceed the curfew depends on the number of flights which that airline has booked with the airport (slot times). For instance, easyJet, which operates about 90 movements per day in summer, will be allowed a certain number of infringements, but if they are regularly delayed with problems under their control, they will receive a warning or a fine and possibly restrictions on the times of their future movements.

Regarding soundproofing for the homes which are affected by aircraft noise, the writer has personal experience of this. When required to stay overnight near Heathrow and using a B&B just off the end of runway 09R which was right under the flight path of arriving or departing aircraft, depending on which direction was in use. The house was a terraced three bedroom house built in the 1930s, long before Heathrow was upgraded to an international airport in 1954. The house was soundproofed by the local authority, no doubt helped by the airport authorities, with loft insulation and double glazing. The noise level was acceptable and certainly, within the night curfew period, no problem to get a good night’s sleep and to enjoy sitting indoors during the daytime.

Tom Leeming
Majorca