Palma.—It is an ugly debate which has reared its head every winter for the past few years but this year, the flight situation could not be worse.
And, it is not just the international travellers, foreign commuters and holiday home owners who are going to be hit this year, so too is the domestic market.

Yesterday, the Socialists' former Minister for Tourism, Joana Barcelo, told a meeting of the Parliamentary Tourism Commission, that there are 815'000 less flight seats to the Balearics this winter than last year and called on the new centre right Partido Popular government in the Balearics to take some serious and immediate action to address the issues of dwindling winter flights between the islands, to the mainland and to major markets like the United Kingdom.

As yesterday's editorial pointed out, the general strike on Wednesday did not affect any British air passengers flying directly to or from the Balearics because on Wednesdays, there are no flights - one has to waste nearly all the day going via Madrid, Barcelona or even Bilbao.

Barcelo's challenge to the government received the full backing of Majorcan Hotel Federation to which President Jose Ramon Bauza has previously promised he would address the winter flight crisis.

Obviously he has not and, according to Barcelo, between October 30 and March 24 of next year, there will be 717'215 less seats on flights to Palma, 89'000 less to Minorca and 7.745 to Ibiza.

A spokesperson for the Balearic Ministry for Tourism expressed the department's concern and claimed that it does intend to tackle the problem which is not only hitting tourism but business in general and the real estate sector in particular.

Just this week, for example, a Scottish Chamber of Commerce complained that its booming Spanish tourist trade has totally dried up due to the grounding of flights.

The lack of winter flights is no longer just a problem for British travellers, but this winter it is affecting everyone, including the Balearic population as a whole , so hopefully, something will finally be done to address the situation before next winter.

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