Balearic transport minister Marc Pons has reacted to reports of Vueling air fares for the Barcelona-Minorca route by describing them as "excessive".
These reports indicate that at certain times over the next three weeks, return fares can reach almost 1,000 euros. For one-way flights from Barcelona to Minorca in the second week of July, the price range is three times greater than for flights to Majorca. This range is also well above prices for Ibiza - some 2.5 times higher.
Pons, who is from Minorca, said on Monday that although the prices are in his view excessive, they are nothing new. It is a familiar problem of fares that "are not explained by market logic" in that they are so much higher than fares for other flights of a similar distance.
The government, Pons added, has in the past conveyed its views about pricing policy to the airline, but without any success. He accepts that airlines are experiencing difficult times, but at the same time he points to there having been "public aid". Iberia and Vueling, both part of IAG, signed up for ICO (Instituto de Crédito Oficial) credit of 1,010 million euros in early May. A quarter of this was for Vueling.
The minister referred to the "bad arrangement" of Vueling operating a monopoly for much of the year and to the unlikelihood of there being public control of the route. A Public Service Obligation (PSO) would set a minimum number of frequencies and maximum prices, something that was achieved for the Madrid route, "but only when there was no company that wanted to fly". The European Union, he noted, "is very, very, very reluctant" to apply PSO if a company is operating a route.