Fog brought air traffic at Palma's Son Sant Joan to a halt between the hours of 8am and 10.30am yesterday morning, affecting 7'000 passengers. Eight flights heading for Palma had to be rerouted to Ibiza and Barcelona. The delays in some flights were as much as three hours. The companies which had to reroute flights were Air Nostrum, Spainair and Air Europa. Traffic was back to normal at noon, although the backlog of delays affected 7'000 passengers, some of whom had to wait up to three hours, according to AENA (airport authority) sources in Palma. More fog is expected to cause delays this morning. Travel agencies and airlines complained about the situation last year, and as a result AENA agreed to install an Instrumental Landing System, category 3-a, which will solve the problems. However, this will not be installed until the end of March. It will enable planes to land at Son Sant Joan with a visibility of 200 metres. But the system also means that airlines will also have to install special equipment and crews will have to take courses in flight simulators. Once the equipment is installed, Son Sant Joan will be in line with Heathrow, Gatwick, Frankfurt and Charles de Gaulle airports. Yesterday, Felipe Navio, the president of the Spanish Airlines Association (AECA) criticised what he described as the passive attitude of AENA, saying neither its president, Pedro Argüelles, nor the director of the airport, Mariano Menor, paid attention to their complaints. He said that as AENA increases its charges every year, it was logical for them to guarantee the services for an island community which depends on air transport. Visibility was also limited in many parts of Palma, such as Calle Manacor until mid morning. If the situation is repeated today, drivers are advised to proceed with caution.
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