Balearic environmentalists and the tourist industry are at odds again, this time over central government's plans to nearly double capacity at the islands' airports. Local environmental group GOB has already announced plans to set up a platform against the expansion of Palma airport and the organisation has also expressed its concerns about plans to increase passenger traffic at Minorca airport. GOB's primary concern is that a sharp rise in passenger traffic over the next five years will increase the burden on the island's natural resources and in the case of Majorca will be a “catastrophe.” But the director of Minorca airport Nemesio Suarez has hit back saying “there is no relation between an increase in air traffic and urban pressure on the island.” He said that according to calculations made by the Spanish Airport and Air Traffic Control authority AENA, the results suggest that tourists are gradually reducing the length of their stay in Minorca “which in turn is easing the problems of sustainability.” Suarez said that criticisms of the new plans for the region's airports from GOB and other left wing groups are unfounded, adding that Minorca airport, like all other airports, has to grow with demand. However, resident associations in Minorca are also siding with opponents to the expansion plans. The local community fears the worst for the island's natural resources and GOB is trying to harness similar opposition to Palma airport plans in Majorca. But Suarez is sticking to his guns and maintains that year by year, tourists are spending less time on the island and therefore, hoteliers need more clients to maintain momentum in the market. AENA has established that in Minorca there are some 75'000 bed spaces, illegal and legal and by expanding the airport's capacity it will enable the island's accommodation sector to maintain occupancy levels.

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