Fares for island residents are inflated by the current booking system. | Gemma Andreu


On Friday, the Balearic transport minister, Marc Pons, explained that from March 1 there is to be a change to the booking procedure for flights and ferries that involves the residents' discount. The indication that the customer is a resident must come at the end of the procedure and not at the start.

Pons said that bookings' algorithms immediately set prices when the resident indication is made at the start of the process. These prices are not the same as those for non-residents. He suggested that they can be as much as 22% higher, prior of course to the 75% discount being applied.

The minister pointed out that these are customers who have to travel either by plane or ferry and that companies' strategies have been for the benefit of their "income statements". Pons didn't accept that there has been fraudulent activity, as "the free market allows them to set the prices they want to".

By March 1, airlines and ferry companies will need to have adjusted their algorithms in order to comply with the new measure. Pons admitted that it will not be a total solution to the problem of inflating fares in order to take advantage of the Spanish government subsidies but that "it will help to solve it", as it is designed to prevent "excessive" increases in the base price of tickets.

The Spanish government, Pons noted, has this year allocated 212 million euros for airline tickets for Balearic residents; for ferry services there is 50.7 million. He added that the regional government has spoken with the main airlines and ferry companies, which have assured the government that they are working on modifying their algorithms.

* The change to the procedure will also apply to the Canaries, Ceuta and Melilla.