The Balearic government has failed in its bid to have domestic transport concessions for residents increased. The local government has been trying to lobby central government into increasing the discount for residents from 33 per cent to 50 per cent. But Madrid has ruled that there are neither reasons for domestic flights between the Balearics and the mainland to be declared a public service nor for the discounts to be increased. The Balearic government maintains that air transport links between the islands and the mainland are insufficient and that by Madrid declaring the routes a public service, flight numbers and frequencies will be increased and prices reduced. The local government also maintains that the 33 per cent discount has lost a great deal of value over the past six months because of the increase in airport taxes, airline fuel and security, which have forced airlines to increase their rates. Central government has analysed the situation and studied the Balearics' requests, however, Madrid has concluded that the discounts are adequate and that the amount of public spending invested on transport for the Balearics is sufficient. As far as central government is concerned, the four airlines which operate the majority of domestic and inter-island flights meet the needs of the travelling public, hence there is no need for the government to modify its position adopted three years ago. The conservative Partido Popular government believes in a free and competitive market which benefits consumers as opposed to nationalisation. This summer a new airline, Air Catalunya, has also started operating domestic and inter island flights while the number of sea connections has also increased. Yesterday, shipping company Balearia announced that it will start operating a new service between Alcudia and Mahon which will take just four hours on July 12. The new ferry will have a capacity for 850 passengers and 150 vehicles and will leave Alcudia at 8am, arriving in Minorca at mid-day before setting sail from Minorca at 7pm, making day trips possible. The ferry operating on the route Bahía de Málaga is one of the safest in Europe.