Spain to aid airlines by offering shorter flight routes
The Spanish government is planning to offer flight routes used by military to domestic airlines as they are shorter and will use less fuel.21 July 2008
BARCELONA / MALAGA - The government plans to help domestic airlines being hit by surging fuel costs by offering flight routes used by the military, which would be shorter and thereby save on fuel costs.
Technicians at the ministries of Defence and Public Works are studying how the initiative will be implemented.
The news emerged after Spanish Airline Association (AECA) president Felipe Navío appealed to the government on Friday to reduce taxes in order to help firms mitigate high fuel costs.
Spanair became the first casualty of the airline crisis in Spain on Wednesday when it announced a restructuring plan that involves laying off 1,100 employees, closing nine unprofitable routes and grounding 15 planes. The measures are expected to save the airline EUR 90 million in 2009.
Public Works Minister Magdalena Álvarez said on Saturday that the military flight route idea would not contravene the Open Skies Agreement, which grants airline operators in the European Union and the United States greater access to fly in each other's air space.
Álvarez said there was little time to waste. "The alternatives are being analysed [by technicians at both ministries] on what we must do," she said. "What we have to do now is reach an agreement with the Defence Ministry."
Rocketing fuel costs have been an increasingly painful headache for the airline industry. At Iberia, fuel costs have risen by 75 percent this year. The national flag carrier announced recently that fuel and personnel costs alone in the first quarter of the year totalled EUR 330 million.
[El Pais / S.D.A. / Diego Narváez / Expatica]
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