Businesses are struggling at an aerospace enterprise zone in the Vale of Glamorgan because of restrictions at a flagship site, one entrepreneur claims.
Sion Llewelyn set up Avalon Aviation at St Athan airfield to import and sell light aircraft.
But he claims restricted flying times are preventing firms from making the most of development opportunities.
Economy Minister Edwina Hart said plans were in place to address concerns.
The Cardiff Airport and St Athan zone is one of seven areas across Wales where businesses are offered incentives with the aim of generating jobs and boosting the economy.
Avalon Aviation was set up by Mr Llewelyn when the enterprise zone was established two years ago, assisted by a grant from the Welsh government.
But he claims that restricted flying times to and from the airfield pose a significant problem for aviation companies at the site.
“We’re struggling, as are a number of the businesses struggling here, because of what seems to be an unhappy relationship between the traditional use of this airfield by the Ministry of Defence and the RAF and the attempt to bring in new life, new blood and its civilian use as an enterprise zone run by the Welsh government,” he said.
“The airfield is still run by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the RAF and they will only operate Monday to Friday 0930 to 1630 – civil service office hours. The reality of business, of course, and especially aviation is that it’s a seven day a week operation.”
“Businesses are finding it very difficult to get off the ground – mind the pun,” added Mr Llewelyn.
“I think the government need to be applauded for their vision of creating an aviation enterprise zone but their ability to deliver that has to be questioned.”
Mrs Hart told assembly members on Thursday that flying hours at St Athan will be extended from next month.
Giving evidence to the enterprise committee she said a nine-to-five service would be available from Monday to Saturday with aircraft access in and out of the airfield on Sundays also available on request.
“We acknowledge there’s been difficulty for the businesses there but I think we’ve also got to acknowledge that it is very difficult taking things through sometimes with the MoD which is a vast organisation in terms of the chain of command,” the minister told AMs.
“We are absolutely committed to getting this right and hopefully now from April this will be got right and businesses will be very happy and we hope to attract other businesses.”
Last October, First Minister Carwyn Jones said almost 2,000 jobs have been created across the seven enterprise zones, with a further 6,500 in the pipeline.
Opposition parties say the government has not released enough information about the aims and performance of enterprise zones.
Plaid Cymru economy spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth said there has been too much “secrecy”.
“We’re not getting the information that we need from government at this point in time,” he said.
“If you have strategies in place, if you have public money being pumped into these enterprise zones, we need to be making sure we’re getting value for money.”
A Welsh government spokesperson said: “The minister for economy, science and transport has already published performance indicators relating to enterprise zones and has made a commitment to publish aggregated jobs figures in due course.”
Sourced by BBC News
Press Release by Welsh Government
Work has started on a road straightening project, costing almost £3m, to improve access to the St Athan and Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone paving the way for new multi-million pound investments in the site.
The Welsh Government is funding the improvements to the B4265 between Gileston and Oldmill, which will improve connectivity within the Zone. Works are expected to be completed by the end of 2014.
St Athan and Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone has had several inward investments over the last three years which have the potential to create hundreds of new jobs, that require the straightening of this stretch of road to improve safety and access.
Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, Edwina Hart said:
“This investment demonstrates the Welsh Government’s commitment to making a success of the St Athan and Cardiff Enterprise Zone. Improving access to the site will open up more investment opportunities here. The straightening of these bends will also make the road safer for the many drivers who use this road every day.”
Prof Garel Rhys, Chair of the St Athan Enterprise Zone, said:
“I am delighted to see work begin on improving this stretch of road. This project is vital to the long term future of the St Athan and Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone and will open many new investment opportunities to help the zone develop and realise its potential.”
The Vale of Glamorgan Council is carrying out the work on behalf of the Welsh Government.
The Wales Air Forum shared several news articles from various sources each providing different parts of the puzzle. So what exactly do we know about Bruce Dickinson’s company and it’s plans?
Cardiff Aviation Ltd will be based at the 132,000 sq ft Twin Peaks hangar at MoD St Athan. The company will formally launch in July 2012 with 250-300 full time jobs being created within the first year. Within two years there could be in the region of 1,000 to 1,500 jobs created by the company.
Cardiff Aviation Ltd wants to provide heavy maintenance for Airbus and Boeing types of aircraft inside the Twin Peaks hangar which can accommodate aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 767.
The company is not intending to just concentrate on maintenance as it will form as part of a “total aviation service package” that they offer including flight and technical training, certification and aircraft sourcing and leasing.
Cardiff Aviation Ltd are hopeful that the development of new airline services for South Wales are included as Cardiff Airport has tremendous potential to challenge the successful English regional airports.
The first customers are likely to be “Boeing 737 operators” according to the company, and will be revealed later this month. But Bruce Dickinson has stated that “several more major and independent airlines” have shown interest in employing the business.
Update: 9th May 2012
Cardiff Aviation Ltd has purchased it’s first simulator which is a Boeing 747 simulator and will be delivered in June.
Update: 23rd May 2012
Cardiff Aviation Ltd has taken the delivery of it’s first Boeing 747-200 flight simulator.
Cardiff Aviation Ltd mentions that VIP air taxi & medevac operations are under consideration.
Video of the Cardiff Aviation Ltd facility – click here
Update: 12th July 2012
Cardiff Aviation Ltd has officially received the keys to the Twin Peak hangar at MoD St Athan.
At present everything is running as planned and there is hope of an announcement in three weeks or so.
All recruitment enquiries should be sent to email@example.com
Update 21st July 2012
Mario Fulgoni appointed as executive chairman
Confident that the Civil Aviation Authority certification to maintain aircraft being operated in the UK to be secured within 8 to 12 weeks.
Cardiff Aviation now has all of it’s senior management team in place.
Update 5th September 2012
Bruce Dickinson has reported that Cardiff Aviation has obtained their Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) number however they are waiting for the documentation to arrive via post
Update 12th September 2012
Bruce Dickinson has reported that there will be a clearer idea on the Cardiff Aviation recruitment schedule within a few weeks.
Update 6th October 2012
Two Canadair CL-215 waterbomber aircraft arrived at Cardiff Aviation Ltd
Bruce Dickinson was on board one of the aircraft and believed they are beeing stored with some maintenance to be carried out on them.
Update 31st October 2012
A Yakutia Air Boeing 757-200 arrived at Cardiff Aviation Ltd for maintenance. It is to have an engine change.
Update 7th January 2013
Bruce Dickinson reported on the Cardiff Aviation Ltd website that he was unpacking Boeing & Airbus heavy maintenance tooling worth 6 figures.
Update 14th January 2013
Bruce Dickinson reported on the Cardiff Aviation Ltd twitter feed that a Boeing 737 had arrived for maintenance and also another Boeing 737 arrived for maintenance the previous weekend.
While doing research it was logged by the South Wales Aviation Group that a Jetstar Pacific Boeing 737-400 VN-A194 landed at St Athan today from Budapest. There was no record of an aircraft arriving during the weekend however another Jetstar Pacific Boeing 737-400 VN-A192 arrived at St Athan on 21st Dec 12.
Update 15th January 2013
Bruce Dickinson reported on the Cardiff Aviation Ltd twitter feed that Colin Harrison has been appointed as Head of Base Maintenance. Bruce also states that Colin Harrison has had previous experience at Cobham, Airbus & British Airways.
Update 7th Mar 2013
A Air Via Airbus A320 LZ-MDD arrived at Cardiff Aviation Ltd for a repaint and cabin re-configuration. This aircraft is the first of three aircraft due from Air Via.
Update 22nd Mar 2013
The Air Viar Airbus A320 LZ-MDD appeared from the Twin Peaks hangar in WOW air livery. This aircraft departed to Keflavik to operate a wet lease on behalf of the new Icelandic low cost carrier.
Update 23rd Mar 2013
Air Via Airbus A320 LZ-MDC arrived at Cardiff Aviation Ltd for a repaint and cabin re-configuration. This aircraft is the 2nd of Air Via aircraft to arrive at Cardiff Aviation Ltd.
Update 9th Apr 2013
Cardiff Aviation are eyeing up projects such as becoming an Airbus A320 sharklet retrofitting centre. If the idea materialises, Dickenson says, Cardiff Aviation wants to take over another 45,000m² (485,000ft²) “super-hangar” on the eastern side of the airfield, which can accommodate up to six narrowbodies.
Update 19th Apr 2013
Cardiff Aviation has sealed a partnership with the European branch of US fuel-system maintenance specialists North American Aircraft Services (NAAS).
Update 10th May 2013
Cardiff Aviation aquires European Skybus, and with it a number of simulators
Update 30th May 2013
Cardiff Aviation shift B737-400 simulator from Istanbul to Karachi
Update 18th Jun 2013
Cardiff Aviation secures £5m investment. Finance Wales, the UK SME investment company and Welsh Government subsidiary, has contributed £1.6m to the project, with the remainder of the sum coming from private or privately-owned investors including Dickinson and Fulgoni.
The Wales Air Forum as usual will keep you informed of any updates. If you require any information then please send us an e-mail. firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit our main website www.walesaiforum.co.uk
It has been revealed a few days ago that the Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science has agreed the funding for the creation of a Master Plan for the St Athan site.
The decision was made on the 4th December 2012 but not publicised until 21st January 2013.
There has been no indication of the cost and who will conduct the Master Plan
As of today (Monday, 02 July) onwards the hourly shuttle bus linking Cardiff Airport and Rhoose Train Station will have an additional stop on its route.
The new look Cardiff Airport Rail/Bus link service has been extended to serve the Enterprise Zone at St Athan during travel to work times between Monday – Friday, whilst maintaining the connection with the train service at Rhoose Station.
As a result the extended shuttle bus route, which is funded by the Welsh Government, will now stop at:
Rhoose Railway Station – Cardiff Airport – St Athan Enterprise Zone – Cardiff Airport – Rhoose Railway Station.
A modest fare of £1 single for adults and 50p for children, students and apprentices will be introduced to help offset the running costs of the service. Concessionary bus pass holders will still be able to use the service free of charge.
The Minister with responsibility for Transport, Carl Sargeant said: “Cardiff Airport and the nearby enterprise zone at St Athan have the potential to play a vital role in the future success of the Welsh economy.”
“Ensuring that we continue to improve links to both are vital and the extended Cardiff Airport shuttle bus route that will now also stop at the new enterprise zone will play a part in improving these links for both travellers and commuters that use this service.”
Steve Hodgetts, Cardiff Airport’s Planning and Commercial Director added, “We welcome the continued commitment by the partners to continue this valuable service, which will benefit Cardiff Airport passengers as well as other members of the community.”
“The service will greatly aid the work of the St Athan and Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone in developing the region.”
Vale of Glamorgan Councillor Liz Burnett, Cabinet Member for Planning and Transportation stated:
“The Council is pleased to continue its support in collaboration with the Welsh Government to fund the Rail Link Shuttle Bus Service 905 (Rhoose Cardiff Airport) and trusts that the extended service will continue to provide a vital link for many public transport users, which in turn will not only benefit business at Cardiff Airport and the new St Athan Enterprise Zone, but for Wales in general.”
Around 4,500 passenger journeys are made on the Cardiff Airport Rail/Bus link every month by people travelling to and from Cardiff Airport as well as by employees, apprentices and students based at nearby premises specialising in aeronautical engineering and the aviation supply chain.
The newly-formed specialist aviation technical support services operation will provide heavy aircraft maintenance for various jet aircraft types, both narrow and wide-body up to Boeing 767 size – but one element of the business is pilot training.
Bruce, who along with other investors has set-up aviation maintenance business Cardiff Aviation Limited, http://www.cardiffaviation.com, plans to bring up to 1,000 new jobs to South Wales.
And the first piece of equipment into the hangar at St Athan is a Boeing 747-200 flight simulator. The B747 is one of the world’s biggest aircraft and the simulator will be used to train experienced pilots undergoing annual refresher training, as well as pilots new to professional aviation.
Dickinson, a commercial airline pilot and established aviation entrepreneur, currently trains pilots on a variety of aircraft flight simulators at other UK locations.
“This is a big, serious piece of kit which involved a police escort on oversized trucks to transport it from the Gatwick area where it had previously been used to train pilots flying Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 747s,” said Bruce.
“It is now being installed in our HQ – known as Twin Peaks – and we already have agreements in place for training and type-rating courses from the day the simulator comes online, with pilots and students coming not just from the UK, but from around the world.”
Cardiff Aviation is based in the Vale of Glamorgan where it has taken 132,000 square feet of hangar space at St Athan.
As well as maintenance of airliners and other large aircraft for several major and independent airlines, Cardiff Aviation will have facilities to complete the full range of ancillary aircraft maintenance and training activities and has the expertise and approvals to certify aircraft from many jurisdictions, including the USA.
“South Wales has long had an association with the aircraft industry and I’m delighted that I am able to play a small part in the continuation of that tradition – the arrival of the simulator is a big and exciting development for us, although obviously not as big as the first aircraft due in for maintenance,” said Bruce.
As an established aviation base, St Athan has all the facilities necessary for the enterprise, including a runway 6,000 feet in length with a Cat 1 DME ILS, meaning it can cope with practically any size of commercial aircraft, including wide-bodied airliners.