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STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
THE Balearics's three airports in Palma, Mahon and Ibiza are to receive a substantial cash injection of 352 million euros over the next four years.
The head of the Spanish airport authority AENA, Maria Encarnacion Vivanco, announced the huge investment yesterday during an official visit to Palma's Son San Joan airport to see how the 75 million-euro expansion of the domestic airline terminal is progressing.

Ironically, the AENA boss's visit was set back because of slight delays caused by fog at Palma airport yesterday morning, however, once on the ground and in the company of the Balearic President, Francesc Antich, the local Minister for Tourism, Miguel Nadal and the airport director, Nemesio Suarez, she confirmed AENA's commitment to improving and expanding the three Balearic airports which continue to handle an annual increase in passengers and air traffic.

At present, new fingers are being installed at the domestic terminal D to provide passengers with easier access to and from aircraft, and the arrivals areas is also being enlarged.

This work is expected to be finished well ahead of the start of the summer season but improvement work being carried out on terminal C, frequently used by Britons travelling to the UK with low cost airlines, is not scheduled to be completed until next year.

Terminal C, which is the heart of Air Berlin's connecting flight hub, is being significantly improved so that it will eventually be able to handle Air Berlin long distance flights. The number of boarding gates is also being increased from 20 to 33 to maximise the use of the terminal.

Vivanco yesterday stressed the strategic importance of Balearic airports, in particular Palma, which will have received a total investment of 800 million euros between 2004 and 2012.

The AENA boss said that Palma airport is vital to the region's industry and tourism and for that reason, AENA is obviously interested in making sure that it continues to be one of the most advanced airports in Spain.