Having seen success of german initiative, british want to boost traffic

British airlines have expressed an interest in following the German's example to either establish their own “hub” or flight distribution centre in Palma, or use the flight connection scheme already being used by the Germans. Last year Palma's Son Sant Joan airport handled a total 24'782 British flights, five per cent more than in 1999, and British airlines, especially the charter airlines, want to increase flight connections and passenger traffic further. The three main charter airlines, Airtours International, Britannia and Air 2000 already have the infrastructure to develop a flight centre in Palma and the director general of Airtours in the Balearics, Jose Gonzalez de Zulueta, says that a British flight hub in Palma would allow the number of flights between the Balearics, and in particular Majorca, and the British Isles to be increased. All of the British charter airlines have been monitoring the development and performance of the German hub and have seen the participating German airlines increase the number of flights and passenger traffic, in particular during the off-season period. The British charter airlines would like to develop a similar market - which would create more employment in Majorca and help to boost winter tourism. The downside is that the already busy Balearic skies will become increasingly congested and air and noise pollution would rise. But despite a small movement of residents against further activity at Palma airport, the airlines, especially the Germans, claim, that the hub has proved highly beneficial for the Balearics. But last summer Palma air traffic control was handling a departure or arrival every 90 seconds and residents who live in the three flight paths, Pollensa, Andratx and Sant Joan, are stepping up their bids to curtail the hub's activity. Four out of every ten Germans flying into Palma airport catch a connecting flight out of the Balearics to another destination on the mainland or in the Canaries and opponents say that while they generate no financial gain for the region, apart from adding extra strain on the environment, they will not pay the tourist tax if and when it is introduced. Defenders of the hub point out that while the flight centre creates extra jobs and money for the region, it also provides the Majorcan population with a wider choice of regular flights to other destinations.

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