The local government boldly announced yesterday that they wanted control of Balearic airports and airspace handed to them by the central administration. Yesterday's move came after various carriers including Iberia and Air Europa said that they would be scaling down their flights around the Balearics and to the mainland.

Basically, the local government feels that they can do a better job than the airport authority. Regional authorities running airports is not a good idea, especially as Palma is the busiest charter airport in Europe during the summer months. Also, what does the local government know about running airports? The leader of the local government Francesc Antich has openly criticised airlines for scaling down their operations. The airlines say that many of the routes around the Balearics and to the mainland are losing money and therefore as part of a cost saving drive, they have been forced to chop various routes. If the local govermment is so concerned then why are airlines not provided with the necessary local govermment aid to make these routes more profitable? I fully understand that the airlines, as they are public companies, are more concerned about their bottom-line than the wishes of the Balearic govermment. It is a shame that routes are being lost but the local government should be more concerned about the Palma-based airlines, as many have announced sizeable job cuts this week. The airline industry is probably facing its biggest crisis ever and it does not need criticism or further problems in the form of a change of management of the airport. Support not criticism should be the order of the day.

Jason Moore

N.I. in crisis again

The reluctance of the rump of the Ulster Protestants to see any progress towards permanent peace in Northern Ireland was demonstrated yet again yesterday when two dissident members of David Trimble's Ulster Unionist Party withheld their votes in the election of First Minister and thus deprived him of the position which he had relinquished earlier in the year.

Mr Trimble called their action “dishonourable”; he might have added “stupid”. The two UUP members concerned, Pauline Armitage and Peter Weir, say that they refused to support Mr Trimble because they do not accept his view that the recent IRA announcement that it is decommissioning arms is genuine.

They argue that Mr Trimble should set a new deadline for evidence of further IRA decommisioning and that if it has not taken place he should again resign on this issue.

The irony of this situation is that it was the Unionists themselves who insisted on the establishment of the Independent Commission on Decommissioning so that this issue would not become a political football.

General de Chastelain, the head of the Commission has certified that weapons have been put beyond use but these recalcitrant Unionists want to change the rules again. Once again power sharing in Northern Ireland is at risk. John Reid, the Northern Ireland minister, has to decide whether to suspend the devolved government for the third time or to dissolve it and call elections. A third option is to try to find a formula whereby the election for First Minister can be held again with slightly different rules. One this would have been called vote–rigging. Now it may be the best chance for peace.

Monitor

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