The Balearics and its three co-operating autonomous regions, Cataluña, the Basque Country and the Canary Islands, account for 50 per cent of the nation´s air traffic and disagree with plans to privatise the airports - they want control.

Despite the Spanish Airport and Traffic Control authority AENA making known its preferences as to how Spain's aiports should be managed once the body gives up control, the Balearic government is sticking to its guns: it has no intention of allowing Palma's Son San Joan airport to be managed from afar by a multinational company, such as British Airport Authorities, as was given as an example by AENA earlier last week. The group of four autonomous regions pressing central government for management of their airports, the Baleares, Cataluña, the Basque Country and the Canary Islands, which together account for 59 per cent of Spain's air traffic, said yesterday that the decentralistaion of Spanish airports is “vital and the key” to the future of the nation's air tavel and “whoever wants a new centralised model can expect no support from us.” “Yesterday a local and regional government summit on the privatisation of the airports drew to a close in Barcelona with the director of airpports for AENA, Juan Lema, echoing the words of the Secretary of State for Development, that any such move to decentralise the airports and hand the management over to the autonomous governments will be “an historic mistake.” But the group of four autonomous regions maintain that not being allowed to manage their own airports will “seriously damage” their interests.

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