The Welsh Government has come under fire from the Conservatives for not using Cardiff Airport more when flying overseas on trade missions.
The airport is used when “practical” according to the Welsh Government, which bought the facility last year – but a spokesman said it is often not used by North and Mid Wales companies flying on trade missions.
Shadow Transport Minister Byron Davies said: “Labour Ministers bought Cardiff Airport with £52m of taxpayers’ cash, but don’t even have the confidence in it to use the airport for their own foreign trips.
“It is difficult to market Cardiff Airport as the gateway to hundreds of global destinations via Schiphol in Amsterdam if the Labour Ministers who bought it prefer to fly from Heathrow.
“Carwyn Jones and his Labour globetrotters should fly from Cardiff on trade missions to send a clear message that Cardiff Airport is open for business to encourage tourist and business travellers to Wales.
“Labour Ministers were wrong to spend £52m nationalising Cardiff Airport, but now it is state-owned, they must work to help it achieve its potential with better marketing and proper route development and could start by actually using it themselves.”
An airline industry source said: “It is also worrying that the Welsh Government is not prepared to use Cardiff Airport when going on overseas trade missions.
“The airport claims that Cardiff Airport is the gateway to more than 800 destinations worldwide, but if the Welsh Government thinks it is too expensive to fly from Cardiff, how can they expect anyone else to do so?”
A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “We use Cardiff Airport whenever practical, indeed delegates for the trade mission to the Innotrans Exhibition in Berlin last month flew from Cardiff Airport.
“We will also be using Cardiff Airport for several other trade missions in the near future, including the construction and multi sector trade missions to Dubai in November and Arab Health in January 2015.
“In assessing practicality, we consider the overall travel time and the number of changes as well as the cost.”
The spokeswoman said companies in North and Mid Wales often fly from Manchester or Birmingham and meet with the rest of the mission at a connecting airport – usually Amsterdam – or the final destination, often at no extra cost.
The latest criticism comes just days after it emerged an airline decided to discontinue flights from the airport to Glasgow because not enough passengers were using the service.
CityJet is also reducing its flights between Cardiff and Edinburgh from three return trips a day to two.
Sourced from walesonline