Scottish second home owners and holidaymakers were outraged when they read about winter flights being grounded in the Bulletin yesterday. Long-term property owner and regular visitor Ian Rice said that he and many of his friends are "very disappointed".
"I thought after all the campaigning the Bulletin and the Scottish community did the year before last, we had finally solved the problem of a lack of direct winter flights. Obviously not. I can get to Florida or Dubai quicker than Majorca.
"Just why Ryanair have cancelled the winter service I don’t know. This winter I’ve used their service at least five times and on each occasion the flights have been full. Coupled with the lack of no direct flights from Manchester and Newcastle this coming winter, all we can hope for is that either another airline takes the slot from Edinburgh or there is a service out of Birmingham. If not, we’ll have to fly out of Stansted or other London airports.
"To be honest, faced with that option, people will not bother, and I can say that a good 40 per cent of the passengers on the flights were Majorcan residents heading to Scotland for a holiday, so it cuts both ways," he said.
When Rice returns to Scotland he intends to raise the issue again with the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Jobs, Keith Brown, who was the former Scottish Transport Secretary and is well aware of the problem. But while pressure will be put on the Scottish authorities, Rice said he believes that the Balearic government should get involved because it is going to cost them revenue and visitors.
"Airlines are the lifeblood of Majorca and here they should be doing everything possible to attract and secure regular services from key destinations such as Scotland. I don’t know if Ryanair are playing politics and are after cheaper operating fees in Palma, but Ryanair appear to be cherry picking their routes. As the largest carrier in Spain, they can dictate the market."
What the Scots would like to see is the Spanish airports authority (Aena) and the Balearic government raise the issue with Ryanair and to again perhaps consider setting up a Balearic airline, similar to the model in Malta, which would give them a free hand to operate flights.
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