THE Association of Car Hire Companies in the Balearics urged the City Council of Palma yesterday, to take decisive action and close the 4 or 5 “rent-a-car” companies who are still operating illegally on the Islands. These “outlaw” organisations, claim the association, continue to offer hire rates in high tourist season of between 8 or 9 euros a day, even though they have no authority to do so. Ramón Reus, the association's president, estimated that in the Balearics, above all on Majorca, some 35'000 “illegal” vehicles for hire are circulating during the high tourist season. He pointed out that for 7 or 8 years, there have been companies setting themselves up “willy nilly” on grounds situated outside the city boundaries, and only paying rates demanded by the Spanish Airports Authority (AENA) for the sales desks that they (the illegal car hire companies) set up at the airport. The same groups are functioning commercially in the airport and selling in Germany as part of tourist package deals.
Although they offer their vehicles at the “black market” price of 9 euros, they continue having the “unofficial” consent of regional government.
Palma City Council is especially guilty in this regard, say the association, because it has forced the closure of three of these companies, but has failed to impose sanctions on 4 or 5 of them, in spite of the fact that a court in Palma rejected suspending their closure. According to Reus, this “liberal attitude” of Palma Council is seriously prejudicing the 270 other companies in the car hire industry in the Balearics. The tariffs of these “legal” organisations can only be offered at minimum prices of 35 or 40 euros due to the companies having to pay all the taxes demanded by law from properly registered organisations. Reus looked favourably on the construction of new dual carriageways and motorways on the Islands “as something that should have been done a long time ago”. He specified, however, that such infrastructure was more necessary for residents on the Islands rather than visitors, since tourists tend to use secondary roads to explore the countryside. With this in mind, the businessman urged the Balearic government to improve the secondary routes of the Islands, which, in many cases, are dangerous due to lack of road markings and signposts. Such deficiencies increase the likelihood of accidents. Even so, said Reus, the recorded accident rate of hired cars is relatively low compared to figures for privately owned vehicles. He acknowledged that the Balearics is way behind other European countries in terms of highway improvement and that the construction of dual carriageways, motorways or road-widening programmes, “are more than justified”.