11-02-2020 Redacción Local

The Esquerra Unida (United Left) in the Balearics has signed up with the ‘No more planes’ movement, which is calling for a stop to expansion at Palma’s Son Sant Joan Airport.

The party says that it will be promoting a series of initiatives in all the town halls where it has its own representation and in institutions where it has alliances - the Balearic parliament, Congress and the Senate.

The coordinator in the Balearics, Juanjo Martínez, observes that the situation with expansion is “very advanced” and so there therefore needs to be a campaign of institutional pressure “at every possible level”.

In Martínez’s view, the expansion will only benefit “the lords of the tourism monoculture and Aena’s private shareholders”.

It will not, he argues, solve any of the “chronic problems” in the Balearics - tourism seasonality, the labour market or environmental protection.

The ‘No more planes’ movement is calling on the Balearic government to apply pressure to the national transport ministry to prevent tendering for work that is planned at the airport by Aena.

However, Aena believes that unless there is expansion and remodelling at Son Sant Joan Airport, the economic development of Majorca will be affected.

The environmental impact study for the expansion project states that the airport is a fundamental means for the development of trade, tourism and industry.

This development will be lessened if there isn’t adequate infrastructure for transport communication. The airport’s contribution to economic growth, the reduction in unemployment, and business/tourism development will all be affected.

It is envisaged that by 2025 there will be almost 34 million passengers a year on almost 247,000 flights. In 2019, there were 29.7 million passengers and 217,218 flights. The increase in passenger numbers last year was 2.2%, while over a six-year period it was 13.3% with 13.7% more flights.

The president of the Balearics Environment Commission, Antoni Alorda, says that Aena will be required to submit a study of the load capacity in Majorca. He adds that the project cannot contemplate greater consumption of land and that the island-wide consequences of expansion (which Aena has said will only be within the existing airport space) will need to be measured. He has suggested that the commission’s report into the planned expansion will not be favourable if it means increased numbers of passengers and flights. This report would not be binding, however.

Aena says that there will not be any increase in hourly capacity. Since 2001 this has been 66 flights per hour - 33 arrivals and 33 departures. The project is in order to remodel and modernise the airport.

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