STAFF REPORTER THE amount of money to be allocated by Central Government to air discounts for inter-island flights and mainland connections in the Balearics is to be lower next year on the expectation that air companies will be bringing down their tariffs accordingly, regional Delegate Ramon Socias said yesterday.

Although the Ministry for Public Works recently agreed to maintaining the 50 percent discount for European Union residents in the Balearics and other non mainland regions of Spain, confirmed Socias, just 111.9 million euros will be budgeted for subsidies next year as opposed to the 122 million which was provided for 2010.

Socias said that the ministry will be working towards lowering the cost of air tickets from the Balearics to the mainland so that they fall more in line with average fares on other routes. Central Government Minister Jose Blanco had recently complained that it was cheaper to fly from Spain to Russia than it was from Minorca or Ibiza to Madrid.

The budget reductions were based on the understanding that the airlines would be sensitive to criticism of their keeping air fares artificially high in the Balearics, and would lower them accordingly, explained Socias. “It follows,” furthered Socias, “that if the airline tariffs are reduced, both the government and passengers will be paying less.” Negotiations between government and the airlines, he continued, would be based on the assumption that tariffs will be coming down, not increased in the belief that subsidies would be endlessly forthcoming.

Socias refused to be drawn further when he said that the government “had another course of action in mind if the airlines refused to cooperate.”