PALMA – A quick solution is needed to the passport control issues for UK arrivals at Palma Airport in Mallorca. A lack of staff is causing long queues and chaos and is giving Mallorca a bad image as a destination in the UK and elsewhere in the Euro.
Headlines such as UK visitors face ‘horrific’ and ‘Brexit queues’ at Spanish holiday airports or ‘hotels in Spain, fear Britons will boycott Mallorca because of huge queues at airports’ going around the UK. And Euronews headlines that Mallorca airport is on the brink of ‘collapse’ after weeks of long queues.
In April, authorities had another meeting about the need for more police at Palma airport. Yet the opposition parties are critical of the fact that nothing has been done and of the lack of officers from the National Police in the Balearic Islands. The regional government claims that it cannot do anything about it. And, furthermore, that the central government in Madrid has jurisdiction and must act.
More staff needed
Travel agencies and the police union are also demanding more staff. Moreover, they fear a ‘total collapse’ of the airport without additional staff. However, that is hard to find as a direct result of the high cost of living and the fact that the financial bonus for members of the security forces who move to the Balearic Islands for the work is far from sufficient to cover their costs.
More police are needed to handle arrivals from the UK as Brexit will now require them to have their passports stamped on arrival and departure. “It’s going to be a nightmare at the airport this summer if it’s going to be,” a British tourist posted on social media earlier this week.
The police union estimates that there are about 200 vacancies in the national police in the Balearic Islands. “Too few police numbers are leading to continued delays in baggage retrieval and tourists arriving at their hotels,” a union spokesman said.
“The big losers from the lack of police are the citizens and tourists.”
Impossible to keep a distance
Despite the crowds and chaos, Spanish authorities are still advising people to maintain social distancing where possible. However, most Covid restrictions have been lifted. Furthermore, tourists said this was impossible at Mallorca’s Palma airport. They said they felt “very insecure” being close to others for long periods in an enclosed area with high temperatures.
The situation only worse with increasing crowds in the summer
Staff at Palma’s airport fear the situation will get worse if more action is not taken before the peak season. The tourism sector is also urgently demanding more customs personnel to be able to properly handle the influx of travelers. “More delays could deter tourists from coming to Mallorca, says Javier Gándara”, president of the Airlines association, who concludes;“We cannot afford that”. Moreover, it also has repercussions on the other islands. Palma is still the largest supply route for tourists to the archipelago.
Problems at airports all over Europe
Lots have read about the misery in The Netherlands at Schiphol Airport with long queues for security checks and travellers missing their flights. Also on the British side, there is chaos at airports due to serious logistical problems and staff shortages both at the airlines and at the airports themselves.
But elsewhere in Europe, passengers also suffer from horror delays. Many people are going on vacation for the first time since the start of the pandemic. And, furthermore, airlines are struggling to fill staff shortages.
The “pent-up demand” is driving an increase in airline bookings, explains Olivier Jankovec, Director General of Airlines Council International Europe. According to ACI models, delays and cancellations are inevitable at two-thirds of European airports this summer.
Also read: Security problems at Gran Canaria airport