BALEARIC President Francesc Antich insisted yesterday that the Islands were to keep the 50 percent discount afforded to its European Union residents on inter-island flights and connections with the mainland.

Antich was speaking yesterday after a government meeting in Palma in which the opposition party, the Partido Popular (PP) had alleged that the terms and conditions of the national budget for next year “could mean that Central Government is at liberty to rescind the discount.” In response, the President pointed out that the 50 percent discount had been guaranteed to the people of the Balearics a week ago by the Minister for Public Works himself, Jose Blanco. “The agreement is not negotiable,” said Antich.

He gave a reminder that the Central Government ministry had expressed “alarm” that tariffs for air fares between the Balearic Islands and the mainland were too high, and were intending to meet with air lines serving the route to make sure the fares don't go up any further. “Some of the fares have gone over the limit,” alleged Antich, “and the government in Madrid feels that the subsidy system is being abused.” “We are not worried by the PP's claims that the ministry will go back on its word,” said Antich. He furthered that the 111.9 million euros which Central Government is allocating for air discounts next year, 10 million less than in 2010, “is sufficient.” Antich said that he would “brook no lessons” from the PP on the subject of air fare discounts because it was the Socialists who had pushed through the 50 percent privilege in Congress. “The PP actually voted against the increase of the discount from 35 to 50 percent,” declared Antich. “It is noticeable,” said the President “that the regional PP only protests when there is a Socialist government in power in Madrid.” Antich said that when the PP had last been in power in the Balearics, they had secured 176 million euros of state aid a year whilst the Socialists had reached agreement with Central Government to an annual average investment figure of 400 million euros a year.