A blanket of fog having descended on Palma airport yesterday, meant that between 7.30 and 9.30am, 16 flights which would otherwise have landed at Son Sant Joan airport, had to be diverted to other destinatations. One of these flights was cancelled, causing a knock-on effect of, on average, 33-minute delays, in both departures and arrivals. According to an Airports Authority spokesman in Palma, one plane was diverted to Valencia, another to Barcelona, six landed on Ibiza and another seven at the airport of Minorca, although at about 9.30am, flights were once again en route towards Son Sant Joan. The flight diverted to Valencia, an Air Nostrum flight from Minorca, was finally cancelled but its passengers were transferred to other flights.
The spokesman indicated that the fog, which at 7.30am only allowed visibility of up to 300 metres, also caused delays which by midday had amounted to 33 minutes on average. It was widely believed that this hold up would increase as the day went on. The Airports Authority spokesman explained that systems set up to cope with low visibility at the aiport in the case of fog, were put into action at 7.30am but withdrawn 2 hours later. Tensions which had been running high at airports throughout the country were eased yesterday when Airports Authority (AENA) staff voted not to continue with threatened strike action, scheduled for 7, 9 and 12th March; and 2, 7, and 11th April. The source of dispute between the workforce and management had been plans to privatise many of the services at airports which are currently provided by the public company staff. If the project were to go ahead, it would mean that around 70 percent of the Airports Authority workers would lose their jobs. Meetings held late on Wednesday this week between Union representatives and AENA bosses resulted in accord being reached whereby management accepted almost all the Union demands, the principal aims of which were for the privatisation plans to be withdrawn and for guarantees to be given regarding job security. The final decision on whether the strike should go ahead or not lay with the workforce who, after learning of the outcome of last minute talks, were ballotted accordingly. The result confirmed their consent to lift the threat of strike action. Palma airport, prior to the ballot, had been preparing a skeleton staff to cope in the event of industrial action.