Plans to expand Palma airport and increase passengers numbers is going to face stiff opposition. | Emilio Queirolo

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The environmental group GOB demanded yesterday that the Balearic government, the Council of Mallorca and Palma City Council take a stand against Spanish airport authority Aena’s new plans to increase air traffic in Palma and expand the airport.

GOB has apparently had access to an official document which the Ministry of Transport plans to approve on 30 September which would pave the way for the expansion of the airport.

The document details “various measures to be taken at Palma airport to increase its operational and passenger capacity”, according to GOB.

The organisation states that the airport authority plans to invest millions of euros in “remodelling the terminal” and “increasing operational safety”, but, according to the GOB, “it fails to specify what particular steps are going to be taken”.

According to GOB, Aena intends to invest some 312 million euros in Palma airport alone, in what they consider “a covert expansion that Aena still refuses to recognise”.

Aena proposes that in 2026 Palma airport could handle a minimum of 29 million passengers, the record number of passengers set in 2019, when the figure was close to 30 million, and which exceeded all previous forecasts. GOB’s primary objection is that Aena is using 2019’s record passenger figure as benchmark to expand on.

The document states that, according to the forecasts for 2027-36, Aena must invest “in order to guarantee the capacity of its airport network from 2027” and in order to be in a position to do that, expansion work must begin in 2022 and be completed by 2026. In the build up to 2026, Aena plans to increase the capacity of Palma airport, in ratios very similar to those of Barajas in Madrid and El Prat in Barcelona, building on 2019’s figures, which GOB calls “totally unsustainable” for Mallorca.

The environmentalists claim that Aena’s plans go “directly against the need for a decrease in traffic raised a few weeks ago in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which called for a halt to developments “to combat the increasingly clear, rapid and devastating effects of climate change”. According to GOB, it also clashes with the Climate Emergency plans approved by the Balearic government and “the planning of sustainability and ecological policies and poses a serious threat to the short, medium and long term future of Mallorca and the Balearics in general”.

GOB demands that the government, the Council of Mallorca and Palma council “take a clear, public and unanimous position against expanding the capacity that the Ministry of Transport and Aena is planning for Palma airport”. They have also proposed that the rest of the town councils in Mallorca united and urgently pass motions against the expansion.
They point out that mass opposition of Catalan institutions has managed to stop the expansion of Barcelona airport, so they are asking the local authorities in Mallorca and the Balearics, to follow the example set in Catalonia.

The GOB is also organising a protest rally on 19 September at midday on the steps of Palma Cathedral to express its opposition to this project.