Staff Reporter THE European Union's Environment Commission is to ask Spanish authorities for information on purported plans to extend Palma airport. The Commission, which was informed of the move by the Majorcan Socialist party, claim they had not been provided with details by the ruling Balearic government for their approval. Margot Wallström, European Commissioner, wants to know if the enlargement project at the Son Sant Joan airport, falls within the jurisdiction of a 1985 European directive which demands the right to judge whether specific projects, either public or private, might adversely affect the environment. The investigation has been instigated by information passed to the European Commission by the Majorcan Socialist Party (PSM) who outlined plans which have been drafted by the Balearic government to increase the airport installations area by no less than 596'300 square metres. The affected area currently houses natural wetlands which are of considerable environmental importance as they play host to some species which are quite rare on the island.

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PSM let it be known to Margot Wallström that Es Carnatge at Coll d'en Rabassa is situated on a strip of coastline, hardly 300 metres from the airport. Es Carnatge is categorised as an “Area of Special Natural Interest”. In January, Palma's Son San Joan airport handled 687'430 passengers, 6.2 percent more than the same period in 2003. Flights taking off and landing totalled 8'778, an increase of 5.8 percent. Airline companies conducting operations at airports throughout the country handled 144'210 flights in January, 1.9 percent up on the same month last year. The number of passengers using national airport facilities stood at 9'971'570, representing a growth of 7.6 percent. Barajas airport in Madrid was, for yet another month, at the top of the list held by the Spanish Airports Authority, for the number of flights operated, with 31'284 (0.8% more than January 2003); followed by Barcelona, with 21'994 take-offs and landings (2.6% less); Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands with 8'906 (7.7% more); Palma, with 8'778 (5.8% more); Malaga with 7'217 (3.5% more); South Tenerife with 5'790 (3% more); Valencia with 5'189 (6.3% more); and North Tenerife with 4'702 (14% more).