Getting Cardiff airport off the ground

There are green shoots of hope for Cardiff Airport.By Debra Williams,

BRISTOL Airport is as near to Bristol as Cardiff Airport is to the city of Cardiff. Without too much question, Bristol airport has transformed itself from a run down little airport into the busy hub we have today.

At the same time Cardiff seems to have diminished its presence and South Wales-based business people and families are happy to make the hour or so journey over the bridge.

There has been much talk and speculation about a super airport based somewhere along the Welsh banks of the Severn, but it has come to nothing.

Bristol Airport is in Lulsgate Bottom in North Somerset, approximately seven miles from the city centre. Its boasts Easyjet and Ryanair operating out of there, which can only help with the numbers of passengers it attracts.

Cardiff Airport is actually based at the village of Rhoose, some 12 miles outside of Cardiff. If you have wondered how it came to be there, the decision was made by David Rees-Williams (later Lord Ogmore), a solicitor from Bridgend.

Like Bristol, the site was an old, abandoned Royal Air Force Airfield. As well as being the passenger airport we have all used at some time, we forget that Cardiff is also a major contributor to the local economy. It is the maintenance base for British Airways and a number of smaller aerospace companies.

There are, however, some green shoots of hope, as the politicians like to say.

Cardiff Airport was bought by Welsh Government in 2013 for £52 million from the Spanish company TBI Ltd. With a further 12 year loan of £10 million, renovations are underway to refurbish the terminal building, the check in facilities and the security area.

Passenger numbers have also increased by nine per cent — that’s almost one million passengers in the space of a year.

An exciting addition is the airline Cityjet, part of the Air France KLM Group.

Cityjet recently opened four new routes from Cardiff, offering direct flights to Paris and Glasgow. They will add further routes to Edinburgh and Glasgow within a few weeks.

To make their presence felt in our part of the world, CityJet will be sponsoring the Ospreys v Blues game tonight at the Liberty Stadium.

Ospreys play a considerable number of away games each season and it is a huge challenge to organise for the team, the medics, coaches and staff to travel to Scotland, Ireland and Italy. So having Cityjet offering some of these options from Cardiff will be a greater convenience not just for Ospreys Rugby but for the many supporters who travel with them.

I will be at the game tonight and look forward to meeting the representatives from Cityjet who I hope to encourage expanding their choice of destinations from Cardiff Airport.

Success breeds success so with more routes being offered, more people will use our airport which can only be good for Wales. Let’s hope there is a master plan to take on Bristol and get the traffic heading west across the bridge to access flights for both holidays and business travellers.

Sourced by South Wales Evening Post

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