Celebrating the arrival of the inaugural flight. | Miquel À. Cañellas

The authorities were out in force on Friday to greet passengers arriving in Palma on the inaugural United Airlines flight from New York-Newark. Numbered among them were the president of the Council of Mallorca, Catalina Cladera, and the mayor of Palma, José Hila.

The plane, with 204 passengers, landed shortly before midday. For Cladera, it was "an exciting, historic and important day, as it connects the best island in the Mediterranean with the United States and Canada". For Mallorca's tourism sector in general, it represented the opening of a new opportunity to capture a market known for its high purchasing power.

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The United route, for now, will operate until September 23, but the vice-president of the airline's international network and alliances, Patrick Qualey, referred to the possibility of extending the service. "This season will be decisive in seeing how much demand there is and in studying the possibility of a longer season in 2023." He added that, to date, the response "has been good". The route, he noted, serves a wider area than just New York - there are other cities, "such as Chicago, Washington DC and Boston" - while there is also the possibility of opening up the island through the United hub in Newark to numerous airports in North America.

The director of Palma Son Sant Joan Airport, Tomás Melgar, said that "today is a very happy day for us". "This regular flight is a milestone for the airport and it is a dream come true. Son Sant Joan has always been very well connected with Europe and even with North Africa, but this route is very special for Aena."

Catalina Cladera expressed her wish for the route to be extended to the rest of the year in furthering the objective of addressing tourism seasonality. American visitors, she observed, "will be able to appreciate the sun and beach, but also the culture and gastronomy and the Tramuntana Mountains".