The discount on flights to and from the mainland for Balearic residents is to go up from 50% to 75%. The long-running battle to secure an increase is now coming to an end, Madrid having agreed to include the measure in the 2018 state budget, which is expected to finally be approved in July. If it is, then the increased discount should come into effect in August.
The demand for an increase has been a cornerstone of the current Balearic government's attempts to establish an improved economic deal for the islands. But the agreement by the Rajoy administration owes a great deal to negotiations between Madrid and the Nueva Canarias party in the Canary Islands. Essentially, these negotiations boiled down to agreeing the discount increase in exchange for support for the total budget.
The Madrid government has been saying for some time that it would raise the discount but only if a new budget could be approved. The spin, as far as the Balearic government is concerned, is that the discount increase reflects the "weakness" of the Rajoy administration. On learning that Nueva Canarias had obtained the agreement, Balearic transport minister Marc Pons said that it had been "logical" for political parties to have sought to have exploited "the weaknesses because of the lack of a Partido Popular majority in Congress".
Pons insisted that the agreement showed that "when there is institutional collaboration, objectives can be pursued which benefit the general interests of the citizens regardless of the particular interests of political parties". He was referring to the fact that the Balearic and Canaries governments have been working together in pressing for the discount rise, as they have also been with the administrations in the north African cities of Ceuta and Melilla. He was therefore looking to establish that the Balearic government had been instrumental in obtaining the agreement.
The minister is due to meet representatives from various airlines next week in order to discuss the introduction of the new discount, which will also apply to maritime transport.
President Armengol, in welcoming the news of the agreement, said that the government will continue to include the discount in the negotiations for a new special economic regime for the Balearics in order to "shield" the 75% within this deal.
When she and Pons meet the airlines, they will be wanting to try and ensure that the airlines don't put their prices up. The discount is a national government subsidy, not an airline one.
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