Row erupts over Carwyn Jones’ decision to fly to the US via London and not Cardiff

Tories say it’s an ‘absolute farce ‘and accused the First Minister of kicking the airport while its down

First Minister Carwyn Jones is using Heathrow Airport to fly to the US on a trade mission

Arow has broken out over Carwyn Jones’ trip to the US after it emerged he isn’t flying from the Welsh Government owned Cardiff Airport.

The Welsh Conservatives said it is an “absolute farce” and accused the First Minister of kicking the airport while it’s down.

It is understood that Mr Jones, who is embarking on the three-day trip to the Eastern US to boost economic links, has flown from London’s Heathrow Airport direct to Washington.

There are options available to fly to the US from Cardiff, although none are direct and can involve a change at either Amsterdam in the Netherlands or a switch in Dublin.

The Welsh Government said strict overseas itineraries often dictate travel plans and that Cardiff is Mr Jones’ airport of choice.

Byron Davies, shadow transport minister in the Assembly, said: “The amount of public money spent on Labour’s nationalised Cardiff Airport now stands at over £80 million, with regular marketing that advertises flights to North America via Schiphol or Dublin. Yet the Labour leader that owns the airport is flying from Heathrow.

“This is clearly a case of do as I say, not as I do. If Carwyn Jones won’t support his acquisition, what hope does it have?

“This is an absolute farce and I am staggered that Labour’s First Minister has ignored previous criticism and kicked the airport while it’s down yet again.

“Taxpayers’ money was used to buy Cardiff Airport and taxpayers deserve a guarantee that Mr Jones is not giving more of their money to another airport just to avoid a bit of extra waiting time or to lavish himself with BA First Class.”

Related: Watch US Ambassador Matthew Barzun’s attempts to get to grips with Welsh language ahead of Nato summit

He cited figures that, of 80 trade missions undertaken by Labour ministers between May 2011 and November 2014, but Cardiff Airport was used for just five.

The Welsh Tories, Mr Byron said, want to grow the airport, add routes and sell it back to the private sector.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Cardiff is the airport of choice for the First Minister, however very strict overseas itineraries often dictate travel plans.

“For example on this three-day three-city tour of the US, the First Minister is scheduled to have a meeting on Capitol Hill within two hours of arrival, so it makes sense that he flies direct to Washington maximise his time the US.”

Sourced from Walesonline

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