by Staff Reporter

THE new departures terminal for inter-island flights at Palma's Son Sant Joan airport opens to the public today and it means that passengers can go from the check-in desk to the embarking point in less than five minutes, compared to the 15 to 20 minutes it has taken up to now. The new terminal is divided into two floors and can handle 600 passengers an hour.
It was officially opened yesterday by the secretary of state for public works, Benigno Blanco, and the Balearic public works minister Francesc Quetglas. But it will be some time before the new building is fully operational and able to handle all the passengers travelling between islands. A parking platform for planes still has to be built. The opening was also attended by Maria Antonia Munar, the president of the Council of Majorca; Palma city councillor Joan Bauzá, head of the tourism department, and representatives of aviation companies. The new terminal has cost 3.85 million euros, and after the opening the authorities also inaugurated the new Air Traffic Services training and contingency centre. This new area, which has cost nearly 12 million euros, is for the training of air traffic controllers.
It is a two storey building and by next year it will have all the necessary equipment to operate as a contingency air traffic control centre, which will enable the airport maintain safety standards and quality of service in case of incidents at the existing control centre. A parking platform for planes will be built at a later date so that travellers on regional flights will not have to be taken to the planes by bus.
Blanco said that the new terminal was part of the ministry's plans to provide a more specialised service for passengers.
Quetglas welcomed the new terminal, although he lamented the fact that it was not fully completed.

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