The government has been insisting on co-management of Palma airport. | Teresa Ayuga


The regional government is having another go at trying to be part of the management of Palma airport. The director general for ports and airports, Xavier Ramis, has sent a letter to the civil aviation directorate (part of the ministry of development) in which he is calling for the creation of a coordination committee for the airport. Participants in this would come from the government, the Council of Majorca and Palma town hall.

Ramis argues that the government has a right to ask for this committee in order to have a voice in the management of the airport, where it is being suggested that the total passenger numbers could this year rise to 32 million. The airport is of course part of the Aena network. The airports authority, partially privatised up to 49% of its shares, is still 51% state-owned.

It is Aena which decides on permissions for landing and taking-off and on where aircraft come from. Ultimately, it is Aena which is principally responsible for determining the level of tourism, be this in the low or high seasons. As far as the Balearic government is concerned, it wants to be able to moderate numbers in high season and boost them in the low season.

Ramis has not as yet received any response. His and the government's intentions go beyond just Palma. Ibiza and Minorca airports would also come under a system of co-management. In the case of Ibiza, it is on the point of going over eight million passengers per year.

A further issue for the government is the tourist tax. Ideally, this would be charged at the airport, as the government believes this would solve the problem of tourists staying in unregulated accommodation and not paying the tax. Madrid has consistently said no to this, as it doesn't consider the tax to be a matter for Aena or the ministry of development.

Attempts at establishing co-management go back several years and they haven't been confined to political parties on the left. In 2005, Jaume Matas, the Partido Popular president of the Balearics, claimed that the PSOE prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, was amenable to the possibility. If he was, then clearly nothing ever came of it.