The meeting of ministers and officials from the Balearics, the Canaries and Ceuta and Melilla.

23-11-2017Pere Bota

Ministers from the Balearics, the Canaries and the north African cities of Ceuta and Melilla have met in Palma and have created a committee of "extra-peninsular" regions. The main purpose of this is to press Madrid for a better deal for travel to and from the mainland.

The increase from the current 50% residents air and sea discount to 75% has been on the table for more than a year; at least where the regional administrations are concerned. It keeps being raised, as it was again during the World Travel Market in London earlier this month. In the past, nothing has then happened; this time there seems to be greater determination to make something happen.

For the Balearic government, an improvement in the discount forms part of a broader arrangement on financing for the region. But for the Balearics and also for the Canaries, Ceuta and Melilla, an issue right at the moment is the room that Madrid has to manoeuvre with the state budgets. Even if finance minister Cristobal Montoro were inclined to agree to the increased discount, he may not be able to make provision for it in 2018 because of the uncertainty surrounding the budgets. This uncertainty stems from the Catalonia crisis and means that Madrid may have to set the same budget for 2018 as for the current year.

A 25% rise in the discount would, it is estimated, cost an additional 130 million euros, which is money that Madrid would have to find or divert. Moreover, the extra-peninsular regions are pressing for a 100% subsidy of airport taxes. While such a measure could well prove highly beneficial in improving air routes, especially in the low season, it would naturally also come at a significant cost.

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