Air Europa has slot problems before beginning its inter-island flights

Air Europa, A330 landing at Madrid airport / José Luis Celada Euba

As reported by El Mundo, last week at an intervention in a conference of economists from the Balearic Islands, Juan José Hidalgo (President of Air Europa) reviewed his entire business career, which he defined as “very difficult”, and he took advantage of the occasion to repeat his dedication to Mallorca and the Islands in general. During which, he reminded that his company pays taxes there and that more than 3,000 people carry out their work in the headquarters of the company in Llucmajor.

At the event, Hidalgo emphasized that his hope for inter-island flights is serious and he announced that he isn’t thinking of giving up operating them. “We will maintain our intentions”, he declared. Though he admitted that the process that Air Europa must complete to be allowed to invade this market isn´t without difficulties, which could put the project in danger. The most serious have to do with the slots -schedule rights- that the company has asked for. Air Europa has slot problems; at the moment they have only been granted 40%, even though, as Hidalgo said “we only asked for four in Ibiza, eight in Menorca and eight in Palma”.

The organization in charge of controlling and distributing these slots, AECFA, which is made up of 13 airlines plus Aena, has Air Europa’s requests on the table and only needs to work out the situation. “It should get fixed”, he affirmed, while reminding that 80% of the traffic in Menorca and Ibiza is charter which is why he asked “to give preference to an annual project and maintain schedules”. According to Hidalgo, although this setback was not foreseen, he asked for sensitivity, “since we’ve already launched the project” and admitted that these contingencies might make them “unable to start operations in March”. Nevertheless he reinforced his commitment even if there is “a delay of one or two months”.

Hidalgo insisted that the problem is not Aena nor the Ministry of Development, Fomento (responsible for the Spanish Civil Aviation Authority) but AECFA, which is an independent organization. He reminded that “it’s a subject that everyone is interested in and everyone collaborates” to fix. However, he made it clear that if they are not given the slots in the end, “we won’t sell the tickets”.