The proposed increase in Spanish airport taxes to help airports raise the finance to cover the costs of increased security measures was heavily criticised by the airline industry in Palma yesterday. President of Aeca, the Spanish Association of Airlines, Felipe Navío, said that airport tax hikes will ultimately have severe repercussions on travellers as an increase in taxes will mean a 1'600 million pesetas increase in operating costs for Spanish airlines. In the central government's budget previsions for 2002, a ten per cent rise in handling and security taxes are recommended along with other airport taxes going up by two per cent. Felipe Navío said that in order for the airlines to meet the new charges, 850 million pesetas will have to raised by ticket sales, in short, paid for by travellers. Navío yesterday accused central government of having invested “not a peseta” in the airline industry while millions have been spent on road and rail travel. Aeca warned that there are thousands of jobs at risk, many in Palma, in the airline industry and that some airlines are finding it hard to continue operating with no incentives or help being provided by the government. Navío called on the government of Spain and all the 15 European Union members states, to think again before raising airport taxes for the sake of the future of the airline industry and jobs. “While the airlines are reducing their prices in order to attract passengers back on to planes, the government wants to increase taxes,” Navío said. He added that this year has been “hard and very complicated” for the Spanish airline industry and that the worst is far from over. Navío also called on the Balearic government to try and make life for the airlines, many of which are based in Majorca, easier “we can't live for ever on theories, we've got talks about realities and that costs money.”

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