The low-cost Irish airline Ryanair has announced that it will start operating flights from Barcelona’s El Prat airport from next year (article in Catalan, Avui). The airline is planning to offer an alternative to the existing services flying between Barcelona and Madrid, the 'puente aereo', which is one of the world's busiest air routes. However, there is some question over the conditions that Ryanair has demanded of the airport operator Aena as provisos for it coming to El Prat. Apparently, Ryanair wants a reduction in taxes, as well as the non-utilisation of buses or connecting walkways, and allowing passengers to walk across the runway to get to the airplane. Aena has said that these demands are not acceptable and won’t be met, as the airline was notified some months ago. A source for the organisation said that Ryanair would have the same conditions as the rest of the airlines operating at Barcelona. Ryanair currently enjoys special tax arrangements at Girona and Reus, but not at Madrid’s Barajas airport.
The Spanish congress was the venue yesterday for a confrontation between the government and opposition with each accusing the other of 'supporting' the Somalian pirates responsible for kidnapping a Spanish fishing-boat, which was released on Tuesday (article in Castilian, El Periodico). Opposition leader Mariano Rajoy, speaking at a morning press conference, said that the government had acted with incompetence, improvisation and arrogance in its efforts to get the 36 crew and their boat freed from the kidnappers. He singled out first vice-president María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, the Defence Minister Carme Chacón and the Justice Minister, Francisco Caamaño for criticism. The spokesperson of the PP, Soraya Saénz de Santamaría, later raised a question in the congress where she spoke out against the management of the crisis by the government and criticised De la Vega for taking a trip to Argentina while the kidnapping situation remained unresolved. In response, the vice-president accused the PP of trying to use the kidnapping for electoral gain without any scruples, even of “putting themselves on the side of the pirates” in their attempt at winning political points from the affair. Today in Congress, with the released fishing-boat still heading towards safety in the Seychelles, the PP is to bring a motion demanding that the government reinforce the security of Spanish fishing-boats in the Indian Ocean; a move that the Socialists will fight although they could lack parliamentary support.
The Spanish Director of Public Prosecutions has revealed that there are currently 730 cases open in Spain investigating charges of corruption against politicians (article in Castilian, La Vanguardia). The majority of the cases, 264, involve politicians from the governing Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE), while 200 are investigating members of the opposition party, the Partido Popular. Politicians from smaller parties are also facing charges of venality, including 43 from the Coalición Canaria, 30 from the Catalan opposition party Convergencia i Unió and 24 from the Partido Andalucista. The Director of Public Prosecutions tried to play down the scale of the investigations, however, saying that with 66,000 politicians in Spain, including mayors, councilors and members of parliaments both regional and national, only one percent of these are facing charges of corruption.
Also in the news: Spanish foreign minister in running for EU post (Avui); Barça player Henry involved in controversial world cup qualifier goal (La Vanguardia); Guàrdia Urbana imposes 2,000 fines a month on people using their mobile while driving (El Periodico)