Ryanair were waving goodbye to Scottish flights.

25-10-2011Patrick Seeger

Winter flight woe returns to Scotland
Winter was almost at an end and had passed with little mention of flights, until Ryanair heralded the imminent arrival of spring with its announcement last week. Flights from Edinburgh to Palma will cease at the end of October. Scotland will once again have no flights to Majorca, unless another airline steps in.

Disappointment, anger, surprise - they were in equal measure. Why will Ryanair be scrapping a service which appears to have been well used? If the demand is there, then has the decision been based on profit or the lack thereof? Whatever the reason, attention turned once more to how Majorca is promoted in the low season, to issues such as landing charges and to regional government involvement. The suggestion was again made that the government could establish a regional airline.

The political party which has spoken most about such an airline is Més. The speaking, however, has been in the past. The subject has been pushed into the background, with Més more interested in the government gaining some management control of the airport. And on this, the party was last week busy putting together a "platform" to press for co-management and for half the profit that Aena generates from the airport to be available to the government.


Tourism promotion and hotel prices
Low-season promotion is on the government's agenda, so much so that the tourism ministry has been pushing its "Better in Winter" slogan at the travel and tourism fairs. Biel Barceló pointed to a 30% increase in tourism for the first quarter of the year. It was "positive" that there should be such an increase and, at the same time, a decrease in summer tourist numbers.

Was he therefore content with statements that had emanated from tour operators during the Berlin fair? These had to do with prices being charged by Majorca's hotels and the cost of holidays for German tourists. One German tour operator had suggested that Majorca was not competitive because of increased prices. Barceló chose to sidestep the row between the hoteliers and tour operators that lingered into last week, though he did observe that certain statements were "unfortunate".

The hoteliers federation was stronger in its criticisms. Tui had displayed "arrogance" and "a German air of superiority". Tui, for its part, responded by saying that one of its senior managers never said that German families were preferring to opt for destinations with terrorism issues over Majorca.


False compensation claims
Another issue that the hoteliers are having to grapple with is the volume of false holiday compensation claims made by British holidaymakers. So-called claims' farmers are responsible for these, and claims made in UK courts are costing hotels in Majorca and other parts of Spain millions. The issue has become a "matter of state". The British Embassy is involved, and it was announced that the Consul-General, Lloyd Milen, will be holding talks with the federation this week.


The Cursach affair
Another arrest was made as part of the investigation into police corruption allegations and those levelled at Tolo Cursach. Jaime Lladó, the director of the famous Tito's club in Palma was arrested; the club had been raided at the time that Cursach was himself arrested. Lladó was charged and released, saying that accusations against him were totally false.

A Partido Popular member of parliament, Álvaro Gijón, also implicated in the investigation, appeared in court and protested his innocence as well. He was the cause of a row that erupted in the Balearic parliament. The speaker, Balti Picornell, ordered the public and media to leave the chamber when a debate regarding Gijón was due to take place. A parliamentary regulation allowed him to do this, but the decision was criticised by all political parties. He subsequently apologised and was defended for having admitted making a mistake by President Armengol. Opposition parties were not impressed. "Ridiculous", "incompetent" were just a couple of reactions.

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John Kerr / Hace 9 days

I have flown from Edinburgh to Palma several times this winter with Ryanair and each time the flights have been absolutely full and when I have compared my experience with other owners they too have endured similar flights. Unless Ryanair have completely mismanaged their pricing policy therefore and cannot make profits from full flights I would suspect that they have other reasons for dropping the Mallorca flights, perhaps their new destinations in France etc. are more attractive propositions, or they are putting pressure on Mallorca's airport to cede concessions in winter. It would be interesting to see the passenger numbers and an estimate of the consequential spending benefit which Mallorca derives from Scottish flights in winter. John Kerr

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