The residents' discount rose from 50% to 75% in July 2018. | Nuria Rincón


Spain's Congress is currently processing an article of a new law for sustainable mobility. This article relates to Public Service Obligation air routes, and the debate in Madrid is raising concern that there will be a change to the current 75% residents' discount. This change could see the general discount being scrapped and a fixed discount for each route being adopted instead.

At the centre of this debate is the AIReF independent authority for fiscal responsibility. It argues that the 75% discount is inefficient, pointing to the fact that it favours travellers with the highest incomes. Data indicate that ten per cent of users (with the highest incomes) receive 35% of the total subsidy paid by the Spanish government. By contrast, 40% with the lowest incomes account for 17%.

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The Balearic minister for mobility, Josep Marí, insists that the 75% resident discount is shielded by the REB special economic regime for the Balearics, while the Spanish government, it is understood, isn't minded to eliminate the general discount. This said, José Luis Ábalos, who was transport minister until July 2021, did raise the possibility.

The AIReF view is that the scheme has become increasingly expensive, which is why it believes that there should be a mechanism of linking it to income, which is what Ábalos had seemed to be in favour of.

Meanwhile, the Balearic government has been calling for greater control of fares to prevent them being ever more expensive. It wants airlines that fail to comply to be sanctioned. Until now, though, there have only been symbolic fines for abuse of the system.