The Welsh Conservatives have called for Cardiff Airport to be returned to private ownership after September saw a year-on-year drop in passenger numbers of 7%.
The fall in provisional figures, compiled by the Civil Aviation Authority, was described as “expected” by the Welsh Government, which said the month had been a successful one at the airport for budget airline Vueling.
But an air industry insider said: “This is more bad news for Cardiff Airport – and the figures don’t include the imminent closure of the CityJet route to Glasgow.
“The downward trend is noticeable – in August the passenger numbers were down 8.2% at 135,900. While there was an increase in aircraft movements in September, that can be accounted for by the Nato Summit, which saw additional one-off traffic for smaller aircraft.”
Shadow Transport Minister Byron Davies said: “These reports of a near double digit decline in passenger numbers at Cardiff Airport in the past two months compared to 2013 are deeply concerning. Welsh Conservatives disagreed with Labour’s decision to spend £52m buying Cardiff Airport, but now it is state-owned, Labour ministers must work hard to help it achieve its potential.
“This reported decline in passenger numbers, together with the recent withdrawal of CityJet flights to Glasgow, fails to create the perception of a prospering international airport.
“The sooner Cardiff Airport is returned to private ownership to encourage private sector investment to help ensure its future, the better.”
A spokeswoman for Cardiff Airport said: “September’s passenger numbers are down from September 2013 – this was expected and is a result of some seasonal adjustments by our airline partners.
“Despite the dip in passenger numbers, September was a successful month for Spanish low cost carrier Vueling with overall load factors up and passengers taking advantage of their routes to Alicante, Malaga, Barcelona and Majorca.
“Both KLM and Aer Lingus have also experienced increased load factors, with passengers using the hubs of Amsterdam and Dublin to connect Wales to North America, the Middle East, Asia and beyond.”
Airport managing director Debra Barber said: “We were expecting this slight dip in passengers – it has been caused by airline fleet changes which are not unusual in the industry.
“We have new and additional airlines and service in the form of CityJet and more recently Ryanair, which is returning to Cardiff with a weekly service to Tenerife next week.
“Flybe has announced flights to Geneva for the ski season, there will be more capacity from Thomson to Malaga and P&O is adding further Caribbean cruise flights this winter.”
Sourced from walesonline