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STAFF REPORTER PALMA

BOTH the Balearic and Central Governments are reporting a noticeable increase in the demand for aircraft take-off and landing slots, Joana Amengual, Air and Maritime Transport Director confirmed yesterday.

Speaking in Madrid after having met with Spain's Civil Aviation Director Manuel Ameijeiras, Amengual claimed this augured well for the coming tourist season and was “clear evidence” that there was growing demand for air travel to and from the Balearics.

Both Amengual and Ameijeiras are members of Central Government's project steering committee that has been set up to monitor air transport services in the Balearics.

She confirmed that data held by the Public Works ministry showed that requests for slots for the summer timetable at Palma airport had risen by 8.2 percent, but on Ibiza it had grown even further - by 12.5 percent; and to a lesser extent on Minorca, by 4.8 percent. “This is very good news,“ Amengual said, adding “the feedback is very positive.”

50 PERCENT RESIDENT DISCOUNT
The Public Works ministry has committed to setting up a public inter-island air service and yesterday Amengual was able to report that details are being ironed out. She said that for the moment, prices of inter-island flights are not going to go up, despite the increase in the price of fuel and in the cost of living index.

It is expected, she added that the price of fuel will go down although recent trends have seen it rise to record highs. Prices of tickets on inter-island flights have been frozen since 2009.

Amengual said that the frequency in timetables has increased by four percent during the same period, above all thanks to the operations of Air Berlin in Ibiza - with growth of more than 20 percent - and despite the fact that in the case of Air Nostrum, there has been a decrease in the number of services.

Amengual pointed out that so far as the project steering Committee was concerned, members have not been so much concerned with individual airport operations but rather with the needs of Balearic society, wanting to put a tariff system in place that reflects the demands of both passengers and business.

The Committee, said Amengual, had also discussed possible legal action against airlines who omit to include a 50 percent discount in the price of air tickets for Balearic residents, both on inter-island flights and on travel between the Islands and the mainland.