2022 was a good summer for coach operators even though they couldn't always get coaches on the road. | Pere Bota


Like various other sectors last summer, coach operators in Mallorca and the Balearics had to contend with staff shortages - the lack of drivers. In high summer, this meant that more coaches than normal were not on the roads at given times. The FEBT transport federation believes that it has a solution to these shortages - lower the age for qualifying as a coach driver.

At present, the age is 23. The federation would like to see it brought down to 19 or 20. The proposal has already been tabled. This was at a meeting at the Fitur tourism fair in Madrid in mid-January. There was agreement in principle by representatives of Spain's transport confederation and the ministry of transport. The president of the FEBT, Rafael Roig, says that this agreement now has to be communicated to the EU with the aim of encouraging new drivers to come to the islands and to Spain.

Roig is of the view that "young people who are looking for jobs will not wait until they are 23; they will look for other jobs". The proposal has to be refined, e.g. in terms of training requirements, but he doesn't see why it shouldn't be implemented.

As to business in general, he says that 2022 was "a great year in terms of work and business volume, but not so much in profitability due to the increase in production costs". His is therefore a similar lament to that of business leaders in other tourism sectors.

For 2023, he anticipates an increase in prices in order to be able to recover what was lost during the pandemic, but operators are in any event facing further cost pressures - fuel, spare parts, tyres; these are all more expensive.