Staff Reporter
IN the wake of last weekend's bomb tragedy in Madrid, the head of Spanish Airports, Carlos Medrano, has discounted the possibility of adopting further security measures at airport installations. Medrano's comments came in Palma yesterday, as questions arose concerning security measures which had witnessed an increase following the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York on September 11th, 2001. Speaking at “Routes 2004, a challenge for Spanish airports”, Medrano also announced that this coming holiday season, more “slots” (aircraft operation licences) are expected to be granted; a rise of 22 percent at Son Sant Joan on Majorca, 11.2 percent in Mahón on Minorca and 8 percent on Ibiza. He asserted that following meetings on Tuesday with airline company representatives “to give the final touches to the approaching summer season”, the demand for an increase in operations came as a “very positive” signal. With respect to heightened airport security, the chief indicated that a new series of tight restrictions is already in existence, following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. These safety measures continue to be rigorously pursued. Medrano explained that these by-laws, dictated in Spain by the Civil Aviation Board, part of the Ministry of Public Works, are “sufficiently thorough”. He pointed out however, that final responsibility in this department lies with State security forces. ”In all European airports throughout the course of 2003, we have installed means for 100 percent baggage screening,” confirmed Medrano, who added that personal checks on passengers have been taken to extremes. Similarly, he specified that the decision to include plain clothes police officers on some flights is one which has to be taken by the Ministry of the Interior. On the subject of the extension of Palma airport, recently the topic of much controversy, he affirmed that new infrastructure development has become “necessary” to absorb the tourist traffic during the peak holiday period, as well as burgeoning inter-island traffic. Medrona claimed that improvements will allow airport users to benefit from “a magnificent service”, although he conceded that the green light for the new plans has to wait for “appropriate licences on environmental impact”. Conservationists have claimed extension work would encroach on natural wetlands in the area. The Spanish Airport chief was accompanied on this occasion by Angel Luis Arias, a director from AENA, the Spanish Airports Authority; the sales director of “Routes”, Nicki Atherton; the director of Palma airport, Dionisio Canomanuel, and the president of the Majorcan Tourist Board, Miquel Vicens. These air travel industry specialists sector were presenting the tenth “World Forum for Air Route Development” which will host a summit in Madrid of representatives of all European airline companies and airports on 23 and 24 September this year. According to Medrano, at this conference, participants will analyse the generation of more air routes and will apportion “new air transport opportunities”.

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