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By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
THE airline industry and the PSIB Balearic Socialist party last night applauded Congress's approval of a motion to double the share of airport taxes the Spanish government currently covers in the Balearics.

15 percent of Balearic airport taxes are covered by the government but, as part of a new stimulus package to help the airline industry and also protect air routes to the Balearics, the government will cover at least 30 percent of regional airport taxes.

The Balearic Minister for Transport, Gabriel Vicens, has been lobbying central government for a reduction in airport taxes for at least a year.
The Balearics has some of the highest airport operating costs in Europe and this has been regularly condemned by airlines, in particular low cost operators such as Ryanair which warned Palma airport directors last year that, unless it does not reduce operating costs, it will keep its expansion plans in Palma to a minimum.

The Spanish government has also offered airlines extra incentives and financial rewards if they manage to increase year-on-year passenger figures.
In accordance with the stimulus package approved yesterday evening, airlines which do manage to increase passengers numbers in the Balearics will enjoy a great reduction in the amount of airport taxes they have to pay.

Any airline which doubles its passenger figures could be entitled to its airport taxes being completely waived.
The move is going to benefit the travel industry as a whole at a time when tourism is suffering in the Balearics.
By cutting airport operating costs, the Balearics hopes airlines will maintain or even increase their operations and also serve to keep air fares steady.