PALMA'S Son San Joan airport is one of the busiest charter flight destinations in Europe and, with just a few days left of the year, has handled over 21.5 million passengers with many either travelling with a low cost airline or using Palma's rapidly expanding hub to catch a connecting flight. This week, Spanish airports and air traffic control body AENA announced further expansion and improvement plans for Palma's modern airport.
Two years ago, the airport opened the new domestic flight terminal and now AENA wants to remodel terminal C which is where most British and German passengers either arrive or depart.
AENA want to redevelop terminal C into a new hub for low cost airlines.
With so many flights now connecting Palma to most European cities, the airport is aware that some passengers do not have enough time to catch their connecting flights and, at peak times, terminal C gets congested.
So, AENA wants to maximise the potential of terminal C so it can not only handle more flights and more passengers, but also provide passengers with better services.
The airport authority envisages the new hub as the key distribution centre for passengers flying from central Europe to the rest of Spain, Portugal and beyond.
AENA also sees great potential in a new area C hub during low season.
By 2010, AENA expects the new hub to be handling some 4.5 million passengers a year and over 32.500 flights.
Low cost airlines Air Berlin and Niki are already using terminal C as a hub for their flights but AENA is confident that, once the infrastructure and facilities are in place, there will be huge demand for take-off and landing slots at the new hub.
AENA sees further growth in the commuter “shuttle” flight services too.
The 48 million-euro hub project is still being drawn up but AENA expects work to start in the summer and be completed within a period of 14 months.
2009 It will be fully operational by the end of 2009.
Once complete, terminal C, which currently has 20 departure and arrival gates, will have a total of 34 and boast maximum comfort for passengers and airport staff.
AENA will also over-haul and improve baggage handling in the terminal so that passengers only have a short wait for their luggage.
The low cost airline boom has not only revolutionised the tourism industry but air travel as well and the Balearics has to move with the times to remain a global market leader.