British tour operators yesterday blamed the Spanish government for failing to provide sufficient numbers of police at the airport. And Abta, the Association of British Travel Agents, issued a statement saying: "Abta is aware that new, stricter passport checks are resulting in longer queues at Palma airport, which is already busy due to a significant increase in passenger numbers.
"Tour operators will ensure that customers get to the airport in plenty of time so that they are not in danger of missing their flights. However, independent travellers will need to ensure that they factor these longer queuing times into their travel plans when flying in and out of the airport."
The problem, however, doesn't lie with the Spanish airports authority Aena but with the Spanish interior ministry, which is in charge of national security. The Spanish police union, SUP, said yesterday: "We have to make an official complaint because it was previously known that this problem would occur. In order to make the border controls work properly we need another 20 police officers."
With the chaos making headline news in the UK yesterday, the CEP Spanish Police Confederation said that passport control in Palma’s Son San Joan airport is at "breaking point" due to the lack of National Police officers on duty. According to the confederation, so far only ten of the 25 police reinforcements for the airport have been deployed.
Moreover, the confederation said that flights carrying drunken tourists are not helping to ease the problem. They highlighted the incident last month when two drunk British holidaymakers attacked two police officers who tried to calm them down in the passport control queue.
The confederation also underlined the new EU border control rules which require every passport to be scanned, while the National Police force at the airport has been cut from 131 to 100. "And add to that another third are going to be on holiday," the confederation noted.
The union pointed the finger at the airport for this "embarrassing and irresponsible" situation. "At times some 4,000 tourists land at the same time, but security is not stepped up to deal with the peak periods."
Aena is increasing the number of control booths and ABC automatic scanners.
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