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Just a month before the summer season officially begins, the managing director of the island’s airport, José Antonio Alvarez, announced between four and five per cent more slots had been reserved by airlines than during the same period in 2010, when a record five million passengers used the airport, in itself a rise of 10.2 per cent from the previous year. This makes Ibiza one of the few tourist destinations in the country which has seen both the number of passengers and aeroplanes increase over the past few years, marked so profoundly by the economic crisis.

The increase is in line with national figures after Air and Maritime Transport Director, Joana Amengual, confirmed at the beginning of the week that demand for slots across Spain had increased dramatically in 2011. However, particular mention was made to the Balearics with demand for slots to Palma airport up by 8.2 per cent. The remarks came on an official visit by the island’s President, Xico Tarres, and other leading dignitaries, to the building work which is currently taking place to modernise and expand the terminal and the facilities inside. Alvarez explained that the penultimate part of the project was on time and the new installation would be opened, as planned, on 1st May. However, he continued that the addition of the four much lauded jet bridges, which will allow passengers to embark and disembark without having to go outside, would not be operative until summer 2012.

The project has increased the total usable space within the terminal from 33,000 m2 to 53,000 m2, although there is still around twelve months work to be completed. He continued by explaining that work on the terminal will not have to be halted during the summer months, as it will only continue inside the two extremities of the building, and will not affect passengers.

He finished off by stating that the facilities were now more than prepared to deal with the large influx of visitors expected to pass through the doors between June and October this year, with initial estimates suggesting up to six million passengers, between arrivals and departures, could well visit the island this year.

Work to modernise the airport, which began back in 2007, will have cost a total of €94 million when the project is finally completed next year. Madrid’s representative to the Balearics, Ramon Socias, explained that the Central Government was aware of the importance of tourism to the island, and for this reason was willing to make such costly improvements to the terminal.

Accompanying the President on the visit were the Mayor of San Jose, Josep Mari Ribas, The Balearic Interior Minister, Pilar Costa, the Island’s State representative, Sofia Hernanz, and the Councillor in Ibiza Town, Marc Costa

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