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Local News in Ibiza

Local News
by Louise Wright

Local Flights Trimmed

Ibiza Local News

As a result of the crisis being suffered in the airline industry worldwide and in an effort to reduce costs, the companies that operate flights between the islands and the mainland have trimmed their flight schedules to an unacceptable level (i.e., one flight a day from Ibiza to Madrid).

Following protests by the travelling public, a meeting was held on Friday 2nd November in Palma (Mallorca) and attended by Government representatives, members of the three islands councils (Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca), representatives from the main Spanish airlines and trade unions. They unanimously approved a request to have the Spanish central government control all flights between the Balearic Islands and mainland Spain.

The minister of public transport Francesc Quetglas feels that the Government needs to take action. He also added, "this is only the start of help that will be offered to the airline companies".

As well as asking for government help, the delegates also asked the Spanish government not to increase airport taxes as they had planned. The increase in airport taxes by 2% in 2002 would cost the leading Spanish airline company, Iberia, an extra 6,000 million pesetas (36 million Euros) a year.

The State estimates that over the next few years airport tax could rise by as much as 10%, a figure that the Government justifies saying that the money will be spent in a bid to improve airport quality and security. But the airline companies have manifested their disapproval of the planned tax increment assuring that this extra annual expense could be enough to send the smaller airline companies into bankruptcy.

So far, the only thing that the Spanish government has agreed to do to help the airline companies is to promote tourism in an effort to keep flight numbers from decreasing.

Also discussed at the meeting was the necessity to create a committee that would permit direct communication between the Government and the airline companies so that instant decisions could be made in times of crisis.

You may ask what would be the benefits of having Government controlled flights. The Canary Isles are already under a Government controlled system that operates as follows:

1) All national flight tariffs are established by the State and revised annually by the Administration Board.

2) Compulsory discounts are applied to young people under 22 and seniors over 60 years of age. Sport federations and people that require hospital assistance are also entitled to discounts.

3) The usual discounts for residents also apply.

4) The Government establishes the number of flights, timetables, minimum capacity of flights and the type of aeroplane, all depending on each islands need.

5) The number of flight cancellations can't affect more that 2% of flights a year.

6) Delays can't be more than 30 minutes long on a maximum of 90% of flights.

It seems to be that the only negative aspect of the Government controlling flights programme will be the possibility of turning air travel in the Balearics into a monopoly.

From Monday 19th November it will be a little easier to travel between Ibiza and Madrid.

AeBal, the affiliated company of Spanair that operates exclusively in the Balearics, informed the Govern balear (Balearic Government) on Monday 5th November that they are re-establishing a daily flight between Ibiza and Madrid.

The new flight will permit people to fly to the capital first thing in the morning and return later that evening.

Until now, Iberia´s midday flight was the only option for travellers meaning that it was impossible to fly to Madrid and return to the island on the same day as the Ibiza-Madrid flight and the Madrid-Ibiza flight departed at virtually the same time.

The Consell Insular (Island Council) is delighted with the decision as it relieves the pressure on the controversial airline situation.

As a result of the airline companies demanding the Spanish government control flights, leading shipping companies have also become interested in the idea.

Eurolíneas Marítimas (Balearia), Grupo Boluda and Trasmediterránea are all preparing documentation that has to be presented to the Dirección General de la Marina Mercante (State Marine Trading) before 30th November if they want to participate in the Government controlled company in charge of the Balearics sea transport.

German Supermarket Chain Interested In Ibiza Shops

A German multinational supermarket chain has shown interest in the Diskont supermarkets on the island.

Diskont supermarkets (Ibidis, S.A.), affiliated to the Catalan company Miró, closed their 16 shops on the island during August and September this year, citing too much competition from other leading supermarkets on the island as the cause.

The 50 Diskont employees had their contracts temporarily cancelled from 1st October to 31st December so that they could receive unemployment benefit until the future of the supermarket chain is decided.

The workers receive 70% of their usual wages from the unemployment centre while Diskont pays the other 30%.

"We don't want the workers to lose out over our decision to close the supermarkets, that is why we are trying to help in as many ways as possible", assured a spokesperson.

Diskont also proved that they are not going to let their employees down by paying all their workers wages for the month of September, even though most of the supermarkets were closed.

Diskont realizes how beneficial a sale to the German company would be as "it would mean that hopefully nearly all our workers could be incorporated back into their old jobs".

Winter Activities

Winter is well underway and already a full programme of activities for those boring winter days has been thought out.

The Ibiza residents have now got time to enjoy the island and relax without having to think about the summer stress.

After queuing for hours to "sign on" and receive their unemployment benefit, people will be able to start enjoying the empty streets and beaches.

If relaxing gets a bit boring, there is always plenty to do.

Sporting activities seem to be the favourite option with hundreds of people taking to the local gyms and "night jogging" seems to be more popular this year than ever.

The Spanish football season is in full swing and the English cricket team has just started a new season.

The Theatre Trust is also starting their winter programme with a Rock ‘n' Roll night in the casino of Ibiza on 16th, 17th and 18th November at nine o'clock.

Tickets are available at all branches of ‘La Caixa' bank and all proceeds from this event will be donated to the Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer (Spanish Cancer Research Fund).

A full programme of musical, theatrical and cultural activities organized by the Consell Insular (Island Council) is also available through out the winter months.

I will be reporting on all of these events in future Local News but that's all for this week.

Louise Wright