By Humphrey Carter PALMA

OVER the past few days, a number of British and Irish airlines have unveiled a series of new routes to the Balearics this summer, with Ryanair also revealing that it is currently in talks with the Spanish airport authority AENA about setting up a new permanent base and transit hub at Palma's Son San Joan airport.

Monarch has already committed itself to regular flights to all of the islands throughout the year with obviously more capacity and flights during the summer season. But, extra capacity for Easter has already been launched earlier than programmed because of a 49 percent rise in demand.

And yesterday, Jet2.com announced over 70'000 additional seats going on sale to a host of Spanish destinations including the Balearics.
The airline is responding to increased interest in Spain and Portugal from UK holiday makers and using capacity made available by the airline's decision to suspend services to Egypt, in light of recent events.

All the traditional family favourites such as Alicante, Ibiza, Malaga, Majorca, Faro and Tenerife will have more flights going out in summer 2011.

Philip Meeson, boss of Jet2.com, said, “We have always seen strong demand for Spain and Portugal as there really is something for everyone in these great sun destinations, and getting there could not be easier whether it be via flight only with Jet2.com or an ATOL protected package holiday with Jet2holidays. “Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Glasgow will see the largest growth in capacity as the airline responds to demand in the North with more flights going on sale immediately. ” The airline will be operating extra flights to Palma from Manchester with an additional service to Majorca on Wednesdays from Glasgow with the airline now offering flights to Palma six times a week from Scotland, which this winter was cut-off from the Balearics because of the severe shortage of flights.

FlyBe is going to be operating regular flights between Palma and Exeter and Southampton airports from next month while Ryanair has also unveiled a new five-flights per week service between Palma and Manchester from April 13.

INTEREST WELCOMED
The Irish low cost carrier is simultaneously increasing its domestic routes from Palma and is going to have three aircraft based in Majorca this year with the aim of hiking the number of flights into the island by 41 percent over the course of this year.

Ryanair has actually become the largest carrier in Spain, according to AENA, carrying 23 million passengers to and from Spain last year - 2.5 million more than flag carrier Iberia and the airline intends to go into direct competition with Air Berlin and Spain's domestic low cost carriers at Palma's Son San Joan airport with the two principal markets being the UK and domestic clients.

The interest from Ryanair and all the other UK airlines which are going to be increasing their flight connections to Palma this year has been welcomed by Son San Joan airport director Nemesio Suarez and the local tourist industry which really does believe that the market has swung back in Spain's favour and the current forecasts of significant increases in holiday sales are founded.

CityFlyer is also expected to relaunch its regular summer flight service from London City Airport.