by Staff Reporter
PALMA'S Son Sant Joan airport has been singled out by airlines Air Europa, Spanair and Air Berlin, for its “inefficiency” which adds between six and eight percent to the air fares.

The airlines called for improvements to the infrastructure at Son Sant Joan, as a means to boosting air transport to the Balearics.
According to Gerardo Ariño, sub-director general of Air Europa, airlines offer cheap rates but tickets are made dearer because of the airport infrastructure which is “expensive and inefficient.” A “revolution” was needed to modify the installations so that they would not mean an extra cost for the passenger.
Ariño said “users pay between six and eight percent of the fare to get to the airport, when it is the only place where they can catch the plane and does not suppose an added value.” Alvaro Middelmann, the director general of Air Berlin, called for the construction of a hangar at Son Sant Joan, alleging that “if the companies cannot maintain their fleet of planes in Palma, it is difficult to stop them moving to other airports and other cities.” This, he added, would mean a reduction in air traffic for the Balearics.

Middleman said that because of this it was necessary to improve the infrastructures and expand industrial activity at the airport. But, he stressed, this would not mean an expansion, merely an improvement of infrastructures. “I hope the authorities bear in mind that the so called expansion of Palma airport is no such thing. It is an improvement and there should be no question about it. They should decide if they are in favour of boosting air transport or not,” he said.

Ariño, for his part, underlined the fact that the demand for low cost companies will lead to the disappearance of charter flights and pointed out that Air Europa has already reduced its charter routes considerably.

Rafael Aragonés, the commercial director of Spanair, said that low cost airlines were in a process of redefining their role, and their appearance has forced traditional airlines to re-examine their management policy.

He said “it must be admitted that the low cost companies have made us realise that there is an area in which to fight, such as efficiency, and there are other routes and services to offer.” The director general of Air Berlin said that there were formulas which allowed airlines to maintain the quality and service offered to passengers and at the same time to reduce prices without generating losses.

As an example, he said that from November, Air Berlin will begin to share flights with Hapag Lloyd, which means they will be able to increase routes, maintain services and lower costs.