Palma.—In the wake of a visit to Palma airport by Ana Pastor, Spain's Public Works Minister, the Balearic Travel Agencies Association (Aviba) said yesterday that instead of Central Government investing 162 million euros in the region's airports, it would be “far better” to lower airport landing fees.

The Association said that the investment of which the Minister had spoken, to be made within the next three years, “wasn't essential” at the moment. Pastor's visit to Palma airport, had included a tour of a new high-tech airport control hub.

Aviba's President Sylvia Riera said that “what is essential however, is that people living in the Balearics can move freely about from island to island for whatever reason, be it for family, health, holiday or sports.” Riera also said that the government should boost its subsidies to the Spanish pensioners' holiday programme “Imserso” because travel to different parts of the country, including the Balearics, by retired people boosted economic activity and encouraged hotels to stay open in the low season. “Instead of hefty investment, we believe that it would be much more helpful for the government to lower landing fees, to increase inter-island connectivity and cheapen operating costs,” Riera said.

Riera said that it would be “common sense” to prioritise necessities and “take more care of the motor” that is driving the Balearic economy. “Not only are we increasing our insularity by making it too expensive for airlines to have regular flights here, but we are hurting the tourist industry, our most important economic asset,” she said.

Aviba said that at a time of crisis, Balearic travel agencies are encouraging airlines to expand their routes to and from the Balearic Islands.
The Association has pointed out that when Minister Pastor was speaking about the planned investment of 162 million euros over the next three years, she reportedly at no moment specified just how the money was to be used. “This means,” said Riera, “that we are left wondering if there are deficiencies in our airport infrastructure which will mean changes in usual operational procedures in the future.”