By Humphrey Carter
SECURITY was visibly tighter at Palma airport yesterday, but passport control was failing to check every passport, despite the country having lifted the Schengen Treaty and being on a heightened state of alert in the run up to this Saturday's royal wedding in Madrid.

The Schengen Treaty was lifted yesterday morning and, in theory, everyone entering, and even departing, Spain over the next week should have to either show their passport or a valid national identity card. However, hardly any of the passengers arriving in Palma yesterday were aware of the new security requirements and procedure.

A number of Spanish airlines are distributing leaflets alerting their passengers to the present high security standing and that valid identification documents are required.

Airlines have also been instructed to not let anyone travel unless they check in with the required documents.
Palma airport sources reported no incident and that there were no queues at passport control with immigration police not checking every passenger.
However, as the royal wedding nears, security is expected to be tightened at all ports of entry as the week progresses.
The biggest problem yesterday was air congestion which led to a number of delays.
Palma airport handled 115.000 passengers yesterday with around 800 flights landing and taking off during the day.
However, while most flights were hit by nominal delays of between four and six minutes, some flights departing for London suffered delays of nearly two hours while a number of arrivals from London were hit by delays of 220 minutes.

The main reason for the delays was air congestion and problems at the Marseilles air traffic control tower where controllers were struggling to cope with the first busy day of the summer season.

The last time Spain lifted the Schengen Treaty was in June last year for the NATO summit in Madrid.
Delays can be expected on flights to and from Madrid this weekend. On Friday night at 6pm, Madrid air space will be closed to all non-commercial or security traffic until 8pm on Saturday.

All the airlines have drawn up contingency plans and are confident that the security operation will only cause minimal problems.
The security operation for the marriage of the heir to the throne Prince Felipe to Letizia Ortiz is the biggest domestic operation ever mounted in Spain.


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