The socialist MEP Alícia Homs has promoted a collection of signatures among the members of the European Parliament to ask the European Commission for a special regime to adapt internal market rules to the specificities of insular regions. Specifically, Homs has proposed to ask the European Commission for allowing Member States to establish the necessary mechanisms to avoid exponential and abusive price rises in certain air routes between insular and continental regions, with the aim of guaranteeing the freedom of movement of citizens.
After months of confinement, as the recovery from the new normal progresses, airlines have also begun to slowly restore routes, but the restoration has not been matched to demand. As Homs indicates, "the number of operations put up for sale by companies is less than the large increase in demand", which has generated an exponential increase in ticket prices.
This situation is especially serious for island citizens. As Homs has pointed out, “While a citizen from a continental region can choose between multiple means of transport (plane, train, car, bus, ships, etc.), a citizen from an island has only two options to travel away from it: air or sea transport. To this limitation, we should add the fact that sea transport is not a very competitive option for citizens’ mobility, due to the low frequency of routes and, overall, the longer journey times.”
An example is the situation in the Balearic Islands (Spain), "one of the most attractive regions for European tourism". The sudden increase in the demand for plane tickets has generated an exaggerated increase in the prices of flights between the islands and the Spanish continental airports. In fact, consumer organizations have detected increases of up to 225% on certain national routes.
For all these reasons, the MEP proposes that the Commission adapts its state aid policy to the needs of the island regions. As Homs explains, on very special occasions, the EU has already allowed the Public Service Obligation (OSP) mechanism to guarantee the frequency of operations and stabilize prices.
"The Commission should understand the enormous dependence of citizens in these regions on fluctuations in flight ticket prices to move within the EU and be more flexible in the measures that allow national governments to correct these problems ", concluded.