The Balearic and Canary Islands share the challenges of the transport sector in island territories

Apr 3, 2023 | Current affairs, Featured, Revista Lloseta, Thursday Daily Bulletin, Tradition

Minister Josep Marí and his counterpart from the Canary Islands Government, Sebastián Franquis, met in Palma with business and trade union organisations to discuss joint lines of work.

The Ministers of Mobility and Transport of the governments of the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, Josep Marí and Sebastián Franquis, held a series of meetings today in Palma with business and trade union representatives to discuss some of the main challenges facing the transport sector in the two archipelagos.

The Balearic and Canary Islands

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“The meeting is yet another example of coordination and collaboration between territories with which we share singularities in the field of transport because we are islands,” explained the Minister of Mobility and Housing, Josep Marí. He added: “It is extremely important to share synergies between the two territories that allow us to consolidate the political strategies that we have carried out in such important aspects as the 75% resident discount in the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, the promotion of the public service obligation to guarantee connectivity with the mainland and between the islands, the need to have our voice in decisions affecting our airport infrastructures, as well as sharing the need to address the use of the tachograph in island areas while respecting labour rights and road safety. An aspect in which, to move forward, a social agreement is necessary, as we have conveyed today to both employers and trade union representatives”.

“Transport is essential in island territories such as ours; that is why both archipelagos must have common strategies in terms of mobility and connectivity”, said Minister Franquis, who added: “In this regard, we have talked about the 75% discount in the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, which is a right acquired by the citizens of both territories and, therefore, is not in doubt. The debate must focus on the price of tickets and, to this end, we are going to test the PSOs on several air routes with the mainland because the aim is to return to a situation of balance in airfares”.

Joint declaration

At these meetings, various maritime and air transport issues affecting the two archipelagos were addressed.

The two governments agreed that the 75% discount on the price of air and sea transport for residents of the non-mainland territories has meant and consolidated an important achievement that guarantees the right to be able to connect with the rest of the national territory at a reasonable cost while contributing to the maintenance of frequencies and routes. The Balearic and Canary Islands have confirmed the firm commitment of the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda (MITMA) to the current system of ticket subsidies between the Balearic and Canary Islands and mainland Spain for residents of these regions, bearing in mind that the current system is protected by the Law on the Economic and Fiscal Regime of the Canary Islands and the Law on the Special Economic Regime of the Balearic Islands.

Regarding public service obligations (PSO) in air transport, the Balearic and Canary Islands governments have shared the work carried out with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to set up a pilot scheme on the Menorca-Barcelona and Lanzarote-Madrid Barajas routes to limit the sale price of tickets for all passengers, whether or not they are residents of the archipelagos so that users have the opportunity to travel between the non-mainland territories and the rest of Spain at reasonable prices. The roadmap being worked on with the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and the Urban Agenda requires mandatory reports from other ministries, such as the Ministry of Economy and Finance, as well as its communication and defence before the European Commission.

About the ministerial order determining the airports managed by AENA for which new civil air traffic control service providers are to be selected, including Palma de Mallorca, Gran Canaria, Tenerife Norte-Ciudad de La Laguna and Tenerife Sur airports, the two governments have presented allegations requesting an additional period of study and analysis so that the final decision taken is the most appropriate for the public interest and prioritises quality and safety in the air control service at Balearic and Canary Islands airports.

This day’s meetings have served to share opinions on the process of merging the Air Europa company into the IAG Group, as this could lead to a restructuring of the routes operated by the different companies on the connections between the mainland and the islands. Both the Balearic and Canary Islands will be closely monitoring this process in case it could have consequences for the connectivity of the archipelagos.

It is also considered essential to reinforce the public interest in airports and that public administrations and economic and social agents play a decisive role in the commercial strategy and in the development of the planned infrastructures. For this reason, it is considered essential that AENA makes decisive progress in the process of participation of the archipelagos in airport management.

With regard to land transport, the Balearic and Canary Islands delegations also discussed aspects affecting mobility on the islands, in terms of occasional passenger and freight transport, and shared information on the effectiveness of the measures established by the Ministry to provide discounts on regular passenger transport in the two archipelagos.

They also shared with representatives of the transport federations of the Balearic and Canary Islands (FEBT and FET) and trade union representatives of the sector from both autonomous regions aspects related to the ecological transition of the sector, the promotion of public transport, fleet renewal and the implications that the adaptation of the use of the tachograph has for the different archipelagos. In this regard, the two governments have committed to continue working, through dialogue, with the business federations and trade union organisations in the terms agreed in the development of social dialogue. “The two governments agree that any progress in this regard must be preceded by the social agreement between trade unions and employers”, added Franquis.

This process, however, must always be subordinated to two essential conditions: that any modification does not imply a reduction in workers’ rights and that it does not mean a step backwards in road safety.