STAFF REPORTER

MADRID
AIRCRAFT taking up takeoff and landing “slots” at Spanish airports this summer has increased by 10 percent in comparison with movement last year, Joana Maria Amengual, Central Government Director for Maritime and Air Transport said yesterday. She also added that there will be more flights connecting the Balearics with the mainland
Amengual was speaking after a meeting with an all-party committee which included Manuel Ameijeiras, the Civil Aviation Director. On the agenda was government's obligation to ensure inter-island flight services. “Yes, there has been a 10 percent rise in the demand for slots,” confirmed Amengual. “Whether that demand actually translates into 10 percent more aircraft coming is still a matter of conjecture,” she added “because the airlines are yet to notify us if they agree with the timetable.” Amengual then confirmed that all airlines operating in the Balearics have increased the number of connections between the islands and the mainland in comparison with those scheduled in 2009.

In terms of inter-island flights, Amengual said that this year's timetable remains very similar to 2009. The frequency of planes travelling between the islands has been maintained and operators have complied with public service laws, she said.

In terms of the air routes which will be agreed for the Balearics, Amengual said that at the recent opening of flight hub at Palma airport, the Secretary of State had promised a meeting with regional President Francesc Antich to be held shortly. “Their future meeting has prompted us to keep the issue of flights to and from the Balearics on a front burner,” said Amengual.
She added though that what is crucial to future flight routes is the agreement of the Spanish National Airports Authority (AENA). “Within the committee, we can talk all we want to about opening new routes but unless the Airports Authority agrees to them, we can get no further,” warned Amengual.