The control tower at Palma's Son Sant Joan airport. | J. J. Monerri


While French air-traffic controllers have been making life difficult for travellers because of their walkouts, their Spanish counterparts are concerned at the possibility of being overwhelmed by the "barrage of flights" coming to Spain this summer.

The Usca union has been signalling its worries for some months and insists that across Spain as a whole the number of controllers (currently around 2,000) needs to be added to with around a quarter more staff. Enaire, the public company responsible for civil aviation, believes that there will be no problems as sufficient resourcing is available, especially for airports with high seasonal demand. Palma's controllers, for example, have been reinforced by a 10% increase to their number.

However, the control tower at Son Sant Joan is having at times to deal with more than one hundred flights per hour, as happened last Saturday. It is said that the tower is equipped to cope with sixty-six per hour. Demands are only likely to increase, as the next two weekends will be busier than Saturday's record number of 1,054 flights. With these demands comes the possibility of delays if air-traffic control simply cannot cope.

A further complication later in the month is posed by the strike by Air Europa pilots. This should not necessarily affect Saturday flights as the four-day action is scheduled to start at midnight on Saturday, 30 July. While most flights in and out of the Balearics should be covered by minimum service arrangements, some flights to and from Palma to European capitals could yet be affected.