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Inside Spain: Building safety and summer flights no longer low-cost

Alex Dunham
Alex Dunham - [email protected]
Inside Spain: Building safety and summer flights no longer low-cost
Firefighters at work one day after a two-storey club-restaurant collapsed, killing four and injuring 16 people on Playa de Palma, south of the Spanish Mediterranean island's capital Palma de Mallorca, on May 24, 2024. (Photo by Jaime REINA / AFP)

In this week’s Inside Spain we look at building safety standards in Spain following the restaurant collapse in Mallorca which killed four people, and how flight prices for so-called low-cost airlines flying to Spain aren’t that cheap anymore.


Avoidable tragedies involving buildings' below-par safety standards have made headlines in recent months in Spain. 

There was the Murcia nightclub fire in which six people died and several were charged for manslaughter, the building collapse in Badalona that killed three, the huge blaze in a Valencia residential high-rise where the cladding made the flames engulf the building and kill ten people, and on Thursday May 23rd the partial collapse of a restaurant in Mallorca, where four people lost their lives.


And these are by no means the only accidents involving poor building standards that have taken place in the country over the past year.

READ MORE: ‘Excessive weight’ may have caused Mallorca restaurant collapse

One in every two buildings in Spain is more than 40 years old, and in regions such as the Basque Country, Catalonia and Aragón the ratio is even higher. 

That means there’s a high chance that 13 million properties in Spain are not necessarily up to current safety standards, even though many of these could be refurbished with the €4.4 billion Spain is receiving from the EU Next Generation scheme.

"In Spain, people care more about having a stamp on a piece of paper than facing  the risk of a fire," architect Juan Bautista Echeverría Trueba, a professor at the University of Navarra, told Spanish newspaper El Confidencial following the Valencia residential block fire.

READ ALSO: How safe are Spanish buildings when it comes to fire standards?

And it’s not just fire safety concerning experts. Up to 82,000 engineers from across Spain have criticised government attempts to introduce new anti-earthquake building regulations they say do not meet EU standards. 

READ ALSO: What are the chances of a big earthquake happening in Spain?

In 2021, researchers at Alicante University found that buildings along Spain’s southern and eastern coastline, from Málaga to Valencia, were those most at risk of collapsing due to an earthquake.

Whether it be excessive weight from overcrowding, ageing buildings, outdated licences and regulations, owners cutting corners or a set of unfortunate circumstances all coming together, there is increasing proof that Spain needs to harness the EU funds it's receiving to get its building standards up to scratch. 


In travel matters, low-cost airlines may operate 68.5 percent of flights to and from Spain, but there is increasing proof that bagging a bargain is getting harder, especially for summer travel.

Prices for standard airlines are also up from June to September this year, but not at the same rate as for low-cost ones. This bucks the trend from 2021 to 2023, when low-cost operators only hiked up prices by 6 percent whereas conventional ones did so by 40 percent.

This year, low-cost flights between Spain and the UK have recorded the biggest price jumps of all compared to the previous summer (+31 percent on UK-Spain flights and +42 percent on Spain-UK flights), according to travel and tourism data analysts Mabrian.


Flying between Spain and France is also 19.5 percent pricier this summer, as are Spain-Italy connections (between 10 and 18 percent more) and Spain-Germany flights (+5.5 to +12.4 percent).

Low-cost links between Spain and the Netherlands have experienced the lowest price changes.

According to Carlos Cendra Cruz, marketing director of Mabrian, “the price increases we are observing reflect, on the one hand, the increasing operating costs of airlines; and, on the other hand, the growing demand to and from Spain for this summer season.”

Global conflicts such as those in Ukraine and the Middle East are also ramping up prices, other studies have found.

As we’ve covered in recent weeks, summer holidays in Spain are not the bargain they once were, but the country still remains a cost-effective destination compared to most Western European nations. 

READ ALSO: How much more expensive will holidays in Spain be this summer?



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