A passenger was charged to bring an ensaimada on board. | ULTIMA HORA
The ensaïmada election
Palma Airport is a constant source of controversies. Whether these concern passengers at passport and security controls, taxi drivers squaring up to minibus drivers, cars blocking the road in the arrivals parking zone or fears that expansion will saturate Mallorca with that many people that the island will sink, the airport is a regular in the news. Compared with the three-course meal plus coffee and brandy of these issues, the latest was a light breakfast or afternoon snack, but because it involved Ryanair there was some inevitable collective indigestion.
Eyeing up a spot of election campaigning at the expense of the Irish airline Aunt Sally, the Més candidate for the presidency of the Council of Mallorca, Jaume Alzamora, fired off a letter to Ryanair and the Aena airports authority, indignant that passengers were being charged for extra hand luggage when carrying an ensaïmada. Defending "Mallorcan products made in Mallorcan bakeries and pastry shops", the Alzamora defence was echoed by Balearic government spokesperson, Iago Negueruela, when announcing that there was to be an "urgent meeting" to resolve the ensaïmada crisis. All of a sudden, it was becoming the ensaïmada election, with the head of the pastry chefs association to be involved in the talks.
It would appear that there is a degree of discretion when it comes to charging, while not everyone was joining in with a new round of Michael O'Leary baiting. They were pointing out that it was one thing to carry a single ensaïmada, quite another when there is a huge pile of them, sufficient to occupy a seat.
The positive illegality of airport transport
The pastries of Palma Airport proved to be of greater political interest, or so it seemed, than the admission that agreement for putting an end to taxi drivers squaring up to minibus drivers was in fact illegal. The government, Aena and the town hall all having condemned unseemly scenes at arrivals but not having done anything about them, the two sides had got together and come up with an arrangement whereby minibuses could pick up so long as they had no fewer than five passengers.
With this system proving to be "positive", taxi and minibus representatives observed that they weren't the ones who should have drafted an agreement. But they had, and the government's mobility ministry appears sufficiently impressed by the outcome that it is expected to form the basis of revised regulations for transport at the airport. The illegality was thus conveniently being ignored, this arising from the fact that regulations stipulate that for any transport which isn't a Palma licensed taxi or a public transport bus there must be a prior booking 24 hours in advance.
Incidental to the kerfuffle involving the taxi and minibus drivers have been renewed calls for regulatory change to allow Uber and similar services to operate in Mallorca. More relevant to these calls was news that there is likely to again be a shortage of taxis in Palma this summer, especially at night. Taxi associations were saying that around a quarter of the 1,200-plus fleet of taxis will be off the road for the night shift as there won't be enough drivers. The blame for this was being directed at Palma town hall.
The Americans are returning ... and they're spending
Meanwhile, the airport was preparing for the return of North American passengers on the United Airlines New York-Newark service. Friday was the day for a resumption, a week earlier than the inaugural flight in 2022. With the schedule extended in all by three weeks (up to September 27) and a third weekly flight added, United anticipate flying in some 14,000 people.
In the general tourism scheme of things, 14,000 is minimal, but we were being assured that it is of sufficient volume that it will help to fill Palma's up-market boutique hotels for the whole summer and make Michelin-starred restaurants very happy. The hoteliers association was pointing to the high spending power, although there must be some doubt as to whether all 14,000 are Michelin-star restaurant fodder.
Watch out for those watches
Those who are might just take note to be a tad wary, especially if they happen to spy any Italians with a motorcycle that has been hired with false papers. Keep the Rolex watches well away from view. Or preferably, don't wear one at all. Three members of the so-called Rolex gang won't be on the streets, not because they've been banged up but because they're being expelled from Mallorca and banned from returning once compensation has been paid for the theft of a Rolex in Playa de Palma and for a rented motorcycle that was never returned.
The three were given combined sentences of ten years and three months for robbery with violence and other offences, but the prosecution agreed to the alternative to prison.
Proliferation of land and lets
David and Simon Reuben are probably in little danger of being pounced on by watch thieves in Arenal, as one struggles to recall whether they have ever been in Mallorca. They may have been, or more likely been on some modest mega-yacht, but they have a habit of keeping themselves to themselves, except when lists are compiled regarding how much they own.
The Reubens are apparently Mallorca's largest landowners, though why they've acquired some of this land is anyone's guess. There are bits that haven't been developed and never will be developed. Still, if it's available and you've got a few million quid spare, then you may as well buy it.
This Mallorcan portfolio doesn't as yet include anywhere in Soller - give them time - where owners of lesser wealth are incurring the wrath of longstanding residents who are witnessing their neighbourhoods being gentrified by a "touristification". One such neighbourhood is Santa Catalina in Puerto Soller, where there is a proliferation of properties for holiday rental and of restaurants terraces. Banners are sending out an SOS to save neighbourhoods like Santa Catalina.
Moves like Jagger
The Reubens, you would have to say, don't really seem to fall into a celebrity category, partly because they aren't that well known. It's debatable where Mick Jagger's daughter Jade stands in the celebrity rankings - low, one would think - but the Jagger name clearly counts for something when minor celebrities have a brush with the law.
Now old enough to be a grandmother, and for Mick to be a great-grandfather, she and her boyfriend (twenty years younger than her) found themselves in the slammer in Ibiza following an incident when a restaurant refused to serve them any more alcohol - and no, this wasn't in Sant Antoni, where the Balearic tourism of excesses law applies. The National Police arrived, officers were assaulted, and it all ended up costing Jade 2,200 euros in the form of a fine and compensation to a police officer.
If this had happened in Mallorca, we probably wouldn't have yet heard the end of it. But no, it was Ibiza, and so Jade missed out on the Mallorca Live Festival in Magalluf. Mick wasn't playing, but acts more of a Jade vintage were. Black Eyed Peas and The Chemical Brothers would have brought the house down had they been in a house. But they were outdoors, and some 65,000 people attended the three-day festival. Another great success, despite some rain on one night.
Shipping and shelling almonds
The police in Mallorca otherwise found themselves dealing with an unusual case. The Guardia Civil's Seprona division had been alerted by Customs in Alicante that a consignment of 25,000 tonnes of almonds from Australia had been seized because EU-required analysis found there to be levels of toxin unfit for human consumption.
The company which had ordered the almonds was in Binissalem. The owner was informed of the problem and undertook to forward the consignment to Palma for it to be incinerated - EU rules demand destruction if it is not possible to eliminate the toxin. The Son Reus incineration plant took delivery, but it was discovered that the weight did not correspond to that of the shipment from Alicante. Son Reus had been sent almond shells.
Seprona officers found that the shelled almonds had been shipped back to the mainland for sale. Four arrests were made on a charge of endangering public health.
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