By Humphrey Carter THE battle for take-off and landing slots at Palma airport for this summer is hotting up and airline bosses said yesterday that this can only be good for tourism. Spanish airport authority AENA which handles all the applications for take-off and landing slots, said yesterday that, based on the current level of demand for permission to operate in and out of Palma airport, air traffic this summer will be five percent higher than last year. However, while the more regional UK airports are being opened up by the low-cost carriers and linked to Palma, many of the German airlines are looking to increase the number of connecting flights passing through Palma hub. The downside to this is that Palma handles extra aircraft, but does not always reap the rewards of extra tourists as some are merely catching a connecting flight to their final, holiday destinations. Air Berlin, Thomas Cook, LTU and Hapag Lloyd are all keen to increase their hub operations and connections out of Palma, using the Majorcan airport as a central passenger distribution point for their European flights. For example, Air Berlin will step up its hub operations in Palma with two daily connecting flights to Sevilla and Valencia. Thomas Cook will, for example, be operating connections to Portugal, Malaga, Jerez and Valencia out of Palma. Many of the other German airlines have similar flights to similar destinations. Airline bosses said yesterday that an increase in air traffic can only lead to an increase in tourism as not all air passengers will be heading on to other destinations. The Balearic government is confident that the region will re-establish itself as Europe's top holiday destination this year. It has welcomed the recent reports that Britons are starting to book their holidays early again. Summer holiday sales are up five percent in the UK than on January last year. The Balearics believes that it is going to experience a sharp rise in the number of German holidaymakers as a result of the money and effort being ploughed into promoting the Balearics in Germany where Michael Douglas will be on the Balearic stand at next month's Berlin ITB travel fair.