Palma.—The Balearic government yesterday vowed to do all it can to defend the rights of local residents when the topic of travel discounts comes up at an air transport meeting on Friday.

The Minister for Tourism, Carlos Delgado, yesterday finally appeared in parliament to answer questions on the government's stance and pretty much admitted that if not lost, the discount will be slimmed down next year.

However, until he attends Friday's meeting of the regional air transport commission, the full extent of central government's intentions remains unknown.

At the moment, Balearic residents, or rather rate payers since the new law was introduced last month, are entitled to 50 percent off flights and ferry crossings between the islands and to the mainland.

But, as Madrid tries to balance the books, this is another area where central government believes it can save money.
This year, some 285 million euros was set aside to help subsidise the discounts. As things stand at the moment, that figure will be cut by at least 15 million euros next year because fewer people are flying because of the recession, according to the Balearic Minister for Tourism, Carlos Delgado.

He said yesterday that one idea he intends to put forward on Friday is that the maximum discount is maintained but only applicable if flying with regular airlines which operate all year round.

This will not apply to the low cost carriers because, according to the Minister, they already offer significantly cheaper fares.
But, the opposition are not convinced and yesterday warned Delgado that he is duty bound to fight the Balearics' corner and not let the region, its people and business to become even more isolated.