Last month, Spain's ministry of transport released for public consultation the project to privatise seven air traffic control towers in addition to the twelve that have already been privatised. Palma Son Sant Joan Airport is one of the seven. It is the third most profitable after Madrid-Barajas and Barcelona-El Prat as Palma is the third busiest airport in Spain.
This privatisation is already attracting interest from foreign operators - Germany's DFS and Italy's Enav. DFS is wholly owned by the German government, while the Italian government retains a majority stake in Enav.
The transport ministry has eighteen months to finalise the privatisation process, but its plan has run into considerable opposition in Mallorca. On Monday, the Balearic government spokesperson, Iago Negueruela, announced that submissions have been made against the privatisation of the Palma control tower. "We have presented submissions for maintaining public management." Businesses in the tourism industry in Mallorca are likewise opposed on the grounds that the airport is fundamental to economic activity.
A factor in the government's opposition is the long-held desire for co-management of Palma and the other two Balearic airports. This has been an aspiration of political parties both on the left and on the right. Privatisation of the control tower is seen as another obstacle to this co-management, something which is already problematic because of the 49% private shareholding in the Aena airports authority.
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