What next for Cardiff Airport, 12 months after being bought by Welsh Government for £52m?Posted: March 24, 2014
By Alison Sanders
This week marks the one-year anniversary of Cardiff Airport being acquired by the Welsh Government for £52m.
Twelve months on and more is being demanded from the airport as it strives to increase footfall. Official figures show the number of passengers increased by more than 5% in the 12 months to the end of January.
Philip Jardine, a member of Cardiff Business Council, welcomed the initiatives introduced by the Welsh Government so far but said the challenge now is what happens next.
He said: “They need to attract more low-cost airlines like EasyJet and Ryanair currently committed to Bristol to widen the offer to people living in Cardiff.”
But he said the airport and Welsh Government also need to improve the connectivity between Cardiff city centre and the airport.
Mr Jardine said: “Access to and from the airport remains a fundamental concern. The position could be bettered significantly if the rail service from Cardiff Central is improved and made more frequent and a new terminal on the south side of the airport near the railway station is constructed. These changes would radically enhance accessibility and transform the customer experience.”
He believes such a position for a possible new terminal would be a real “game changer” to the future of the airport. Mr Jardine said: “I want to see the new board of Cardiff Airport coming up with new ways of improving the airport, not just cosmetic improvements.”
Cardiff Business Council was set up earlier this year and is made up of members of the private sector to drive and shape the economic development of the Cardiff city region.
Mr Jardine said: “Given the importance of the airport to the Capital City Region it would be good to see representation from the City of Cardiff on the board appointed by Welsh Government to run the airport.”
Jon Horne, chief executive of Cardiff Airport, said: “We are working closely with Cardiff Business Council and other organisations involved in developing and promoting the economic development of the city region.” He said work is currently in hand for improved road access and said the frequency of rail services is also on the agenda.
He said: “In the short term, the priority is restoring flights and air service connectivity for the airport and the businesses and people of Wales.
“This can be achieved as demonstrated in the recent past, but it is clear that improved surface access will also be beneficial in accelerating the airport’s future development.”
Mr Horne said the airport is working to attract more low-cost airline services and said this is one of its key priorities.
It already has the Spanish low cost carrier Vueling and CityJet which is about to start services to Edinburgh.
He said the present improvement works to the terminal are “only partly cosmetic”.
Mr Horne added: “Securing growth in passengers and services in the last 12 months has been a good start to what is a long process.
“Our focus remains on more services and improved connections for the people of Wales over the coming years.
“We welcome the support of Cardiff Business Council and we look forward to working with them and other organisations in helping deliver growth in the economy and the airport in future.”
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Mr Jardine we at Wales Air Forum have been promoting Cardiff airport for many years now and after talking to many airlines transport links have never been an issue. The only thing that interests airlines is the size and affluence of the local market and we fail on that test. Have you ever driven to Bristol airport? It is far worse than our connecting road network. The one thing that has allowed Bristol airport to flourish is that their market is over double that of Cardiff and that is why the low cost airlines use it. They have more frequent flights to more destinations because of the population, and because of the choice around 1 million Welsh passengers have crossed the bridge. The airport team are working tirelessly to bring these passengers back and have brought in Vueling which is a full service low cost carrier from the same stable as British Airways and also performed a miracle in bringing in CityJet to replace Flybe who withdrew from Cardiff and many other airports because of their financial problems. The feedback for CityJet has been excellent and they and the airport have been marketing the service to make it a success. I am pleased that you as a business community are getting behind the airport and hope you will try and educate South Wales Chamber of Commerce who recently hosted a business breakfast at the Celtic Manor promoting London Heathrow to their members. When the airport recently announced their refurbishment plans it was good to see that they had given the work to local companies so the least they can expect is to have the full support of organisations like SWCC. The airport can and will grow to 2-3 million passengers without any expenditure on roads – it has coped with those numbers before.
Sourced from walesonline