An extra leg is to be added to the Cardiff to Anglesey air link – and it will not be funded by the Welsh Government, a committee of AMs has been told.
Senior civil servant James Price, director general of business, enterprise, technology and science in the Welsh Government, who gave evidence to a Public Accounts Committee hearing on the Anglesey to Cardiff service, suggested the extra leg will fly to England in the middle of the day.
Officials told the AMs the maximum cost of the subsidy for the Angelsey to Cardiff airlink worked out £3.94m over four years.
“There’s going to be quite an interesting announcement next week which I can trail which… I cannot tell you too much on it. There will be another leg on the route being announced that we’re not paying for,” Mr Price said.
He went on: “The operator has proposed… a further leg in the day which I think flies from Anglesey and I think will fly to England.”
Mr Price said that the announcement is being made next Tuesday and there had been commercial reasons why they couldn’t do it earlier.
In November the Welsh Government announced it had awarded a new contract to UK regional airline LinksAir to run the early morning and late afternoon service fromCardiff Airport to Anglesey.
The contract began last month and is due to run until December 9, 2018.
Darren Millar, committee chairman, asked what the actual cost of the air service subsidy was.
Gareth Morgan, deputy director of delivery at the Welsh Government, told the committee: “Over the four year period the cost of the subsidy is £3.94 million which is the maximum cost that will be incurred.”
Mike Hedges asked how the service compared with Arriva Trains and other similar intra-country travel.
Mr Price said a large number of the people using the service were in the wider public sector.
He explained that he had asked his team: “If half of the people using it are in the public sector is there value for money for that half of it?”
“The basic answer is that he current air service, in terms of all subsidies and time of a public sector person based on an average salary, would cost £430 for a trip. To go on the train would probably cost £515. That costs more because we’re allowing greater time to be on the train.
“For a hire car… is about £366,” he said, although he said the cost of maintaining the road needed to be added, but wouldn’t add to much more. With a private car its about £416, he said.
Mr Price added that said figures showed that if the service was compared to other public service obligation services across Europe “we would be towards the top end of the costs but we are not an outlier,” he said.
Sourced from Walesonline