Healthplan Spain


Spain To Implement Measures To Ensure Affordable Flights Between Mainland And Islands Spain News

The Spanish Government is currently examining a groundbreaking initiative aimed at tackling the issue of "excessive prices" for flights operating between mainland Spain and the Balearic and Canary Islands. This project, known as Public Service Obligations (OSP) pilot project, if approved, would ensure regular air routes at more affordable fares for passengers, as per the Ministry of Transport.

Currently, airlines holding licences issued by European Union member states have the freedom to determine ticket prices for intra-community flights. However, legislation also grants governments the authority to intervene and impose public service obligations to regulate these freedoms.

"The feasibility of a potential OSP pilot project is under examination to address exorbitant prices on connections between the islands and the mainland, study their patterns, and evaluate outcomes," stated Spain's Minister of Transport, Raquel Sánchez, in a recent announcement. Monitoring local air markets continuously, the Ministry of Transport remains vigilant for significant price fluctuations that could hinder travel to and from the Spanish Islands.

Minister Sánchez also emphasised that the implementation of a maximum rate can only be achieved through the establishment of a public service obligation. However, she cautioned that such a measure might have unintended consequences, potentially leading to a reduction in available seats.

Nevertheless, compelling airlines to reduce prices would require exceptional justification, and any actions taken must be carefully aligned with European Union regulations. This is due to the principles of the free market that EU airlines have traditionally operated within. "This implies that European airlines are able to establish their offers, including rates, without intervention or conditions imposed by Member States," emphasised the Ministry.

Flight prices to the mainland have increased by an average of 18 percent, with certain routes experiencing a significant surge of 45 percent. Consequently, the 75 percent subsidy for Canarian residents has had a minimal impact and has adversely affected the profitability of major airlines.

In addition to committing to adopting necessary measures, Minister Sánchez highlighted that the current government had already increased the subsidy for residents in ticket prices from 50 percent to 75 percent back in 2018.

While the government is committed to implementing the OSP project, there remains a considerable journey ahead, involving negotiations with the affected regions in Spain and the airlines themselves. Agreements will need to be reached before any significant steps can be taken.