Staff Reporter

PALMA
THE Balearic Government has approved the creation of a department for Air and Sea Transport within the Balearic Ministry for Mobility.
Its purpose is to set up one focal point for all the problems and questions related to air and sea transport. The head of this new department will be announced today by the Balearic Minister for Mobility, Biel Vicens, and everything points to the fact that he or she will be an expert in this field.

The basic objective of the new department will be to negotiate everything related to the joint management of airports with the Spanish Ministry for Public Works.

The creation of the department is timely as the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has announced that the main airports will have joint management before his term of office ends.

This matter has become a key subject for the Balearic Government. When the last Balearic Government was in power, a basic document was drawn up by the Air Transport Round Table, which was submitted to the Minister for Public Works, Magdalena Alvarez.

Now, the present Balearic Government wants to advance this matter using the political synergy which exists at present between the governments in Madrid and Palma, both being socialist.

Balearic Government sources explained that the candidate to occupy the post of head of the new department has already been chosen and is a person without political affiliation and with a wide experience in this area.

The head of the new department will also have power over the planning of ports in the region, take care of the administration of navigation and qualifications, as well as taking part in the formation of air transport policies.

The joint management model chosen by the Balearics, and approved by the Madrid government, is one of joint participation between the public and private sectors. In this model AENA (the Spanish Airports Authority) will not lose control of airport infrastructures, and therefore will not lose its presence in the 47 Spanish airports it manages at the moment.

The Air Transport Round Table opted for this form of management, in which the airports of Palma, Mahon and Ibiza would be managed by the regional administrations, the Island Councils and the Chamber of Commerce.

The leader of the Balearic Government, Francesc Antich, has to define this key matter for the islands clearly during the next few months, especially because with a regional management there could be a very different price structuring process from the one in force now, with different prices for high, medium and low seasons, with the aim of encouraging all year round air travel.

This matter is addressed in the new Statute, in the sense that it recognises the possibility of establishing management mechanisms jointly with the State, assuming that the Madrid government will relinquish the management.

Air Traffic Control will still be under the control of the Ministry for Public Works for safety reasons.

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