The Spanish Airline Association yesterday voiced its scepticism over the Balearic government plan to push ahead with domestic flights to the Balearics being declared a public service and called for public funding to be made available to all airlines operating services to and between the islands. The Association's President, Felipe Navio, explained that only one airline will benefit from the domestic routes being declared a public service. He suggested that, considering all of the airlines would ideally continue operating a full domestic service to the islands, that public funding was made available to help secure regular flight schedules. The Balearic government wants to put the island services up for tender, but the airline association does not believe such a move to be the best solution. It fears that it will only make the situation worse for Spanish airlines currently trying to reduce costs to cover the security bills and allow for the reduction in clients. Navio said that if the airlines were able to bid for a selection of routes, then the association would have no objection. The association is approaching the problem from the same direction as the Partido Popular which said last week that the Balearic government should be dealing direct with the airlines in order to ensure that the Balearic Islands have adequate flight connections with the mainland and each other. Tomorrow morning the Balearic government will announce the measures it intends to adopt to help the airline industry through the current crisis. The government will make a statement on the reduction in domestic flights this winter, the proposed increase in ticket tariffs and the possible rise in airport taxes, which will add to airline operating costs even further. However, at the moment, Palma is still blaming central government for the islands' woes and has yet to approach the airlines directly to resolve the air transport problems facing the Balearic people.

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