Cardiff Airport board member Andrew Sargent stands down after serving two-year term

11:12, 6 April 2015 By Sion Barry
Andrew Sergent believes the airport is in good shape and welcomes the appointment of Roger Lewis as its next chairman

Non-executive of Cardiff Airport Sargent has stood down from the board after completing a two-year term.

He leaves after playing a key role in recent negotiations that has seen Flybe significantly expanding its routes at the airport – which is expected to add a further 400,000 new passengers over the next few years.

He was appointed to the board in 2013 following the acquisition of the airport by the Welsh Government for £52m, minus professional advisory fees, from Spanish firm Abertis.

Mr Sargent was appointed due to his expertise and strong track-record in change management and strategy in the airport sector.

He advised the Civil Aviation Authority on the introduction of NATS ( National Air Traffic Services), and later led the transformation programmes, post and pre-acquisition, at leading UK regional airports Bristol, Luton and Newcastle.

He said: “During the last two years I am proud to have been able to propose, initiate or influence a number of important enhancements to Cardiff’s operating strategy and structure.

“There are positive changes for all to see, not least of which are the improvements to customer service, operations, and the beginning of a long and much needed journey to reduce the cost base.

“All this must not only continue, but accelerate. However, I decided some weeks ago that two years was as much as I was prepared to give this and wrote to Welsh Government on March 30th to confirm that I did not wish my name to go forward for retention.”

Chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union Roger Lewis has been confirmed as the next non-executive chairman of the Rhoose-based airport.

He will take over from Lord Rowe-Beddoe in November.

Mr Lewis will have a direct input into the appointment of a new chief executive of the airport as well any new board members. All board members see their two-year terms expire this year.

The other non executives are David Goldstone, Geraint Davies, Margaret Llewellyn and Philip Ashman.

Mr Sargent said: “I welcome the announcement that Roger Lewis will be the new chairman and wish him and the airport team well.

“What Cardiff needs now is a combination of sound investment, tough decisions and belief in a clear, focused future as an integral part of the Welsh aerospace industry.”

The airport, which currently handles just over one million passengers a year, is operated by a holding company at arms length from the Welsh Government.

Sourced from walesonline


WRU chief executive Roger Lewis expected to be confirmed as the new chairman of Cardiff Airport

16:40, 20 March 2015 By Sion Barry
WRU boss Roger Lewis expected to be named as the new chairman of Cardiff Airport taking over from Lord Rowe-Beddoe

Chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union Roger Lewis is expected to take up a new role as chairman of Cardiff Airport in November, WalesOnline understands.

In what will be a ministerial appointment he will chair the holding company that operates the airport at arms length from the Welsh Government. An announcement is expected next week.

Mr Lewis will succeed Lord Rowe-Beddoe, who is expected to stand down after a two year term as chair. He was appointed following the Welsh Government’s £52m acquisition of the Rhoose-based airport from Spanish company Abertis in the spring of 2013.

Mr Lewis, 60, will stand down as chief executive of the WRU following the Rugby World Cup this autumn. He took up the role in 2006.

One of his first actions could be to help shape the look of the next non-executive board. As with Lord Rowe-Beddoe their two year terms will expire this year.

While some could remain, it will provide an opportunity to bring in new blood around the boardroom table and potentially more executive experience in the airport and airline sectors.
Lord Rowe-Beddoe will leave with the airport having recently been boosted after negotiating a major expansion of routes with airline Flybe, which is expected to add 400,000 passengers to the airport’s current annual number of just over one million over the next few years.

While having no previous aviation sector executive experience Mr Lewis has held a series of high profile roles, which as well as his current role with the WRU, include being a former managing director at EMI Records and president globally for the Decca Record Company.

He is also chairman of the Cardiff Capital Region advisory board.

The current non-executive board members of Cardiff Airport are Philip Ashman, Margaret Llewellyn, David Goldstone, Geraint Davies and Andrew Sargent.

Following the departure of chief executive Jon Horne last year, the airport is currently in the process of seeking to appoint a new chief executive.

The most senior executive currently at the airport is its interim managing director Debra Barber.

Speaking from Rome, ahead of Wales’s game tomorrow, Mr Lewis declined to comment.

The airport is continuing to hold talks with a number of airlines. High on its list of targets is securing a route into a hub airport in the Middle East, providing for connecting flights into the Far East and Australasia.

Possible candidates include Emirates. However, Cardiff is facing competition from its nearest rival Bristol Airport to land a new route into the Middle East.

The Welsh Government declined to comment when asked about Mr Lewis and chairmanship of the airport.

Sourced from walesonline

Flybe’s new route investment at Cardiff Airport is a good deal for now, but what about the future?

10:34, 19 March 2015
Aviation expert Martin Evans explores Flybe’s investment in new routes at Cardiff Airport but asks what will happen over the long-term

In the airport business it helps to have a short memory.

There are a limited number of airlines to do deals with so if one airline stabs you in the back, the next morning you offer to sharpen the blades for them.

So it was no great surprise when Flybe announced a triumphant expansion at Cardiff Airport thirteen months after abandoning some of the airport’s most important routes at very short notice.

The routes
This was a deal that both parties really needed but of the ‘eleven’ new routes, how much is really new?

Well, two routes, Belfast and Jersey were already being flown by flybe.

Dusseldorf had already been announced as a replacement for Germanwings.

Edinburgh, Glasgow and Paris Charles de Gaulle abandoned by Flybe a year ago, with Edinburgh and Paris Orly already served by City Jet leaving Cork, Dublin, Milan, Faro and Munich as the new routes but of these Dublin is already served by Aer Lingus.
The deal
Route network isn’t the only positive from this deal. Flybe has signed a ten year agreement with Cardiff Airport to base two aircraft at Cardiff.

Having based aircraft is very important, it brings jobs, it brings more convenient arrival and departure times and it helps the marketing of routes. It shows a commitment to the airport and more aircraft can be added later for future growth.

This was a deal that had to be done by Cardiff Airport.

The opportunity to become a base for a low cost airline now seems to have vanished.

The weakness at Cardiff is not only having a very strong summer market but a very weak Winter market but also competition from Bristol Airport where the UK’s two biggest low cost airlines have bases.

This is unfortunate because the smmer market at Cardiff is better suited to a low cost airline.

However, the traditional Spanish market is well served by low cost airline Vuelling who, by not having aircraft based at Cardiff, can offer more seats in summer than in winter.

The lack of a based low cost airline makes Cardiff an ideal base for Flybe. They don’t want to compete directly with the low cost airlines who use larger aircraft and have lower costs of operation.

Their business model is to use smaller aircraft offering high frequency services between major cities or routes that are too small for the low cost airlines.

An airport that doesn’t have a based low cost airline needs connections to major UK and European cities and as Europe’s largest regional airline, flybe is the best option available.

Related story: Chief executive of Flybe on the Cardiff investment.

Financial rationale
Flybe also had reasons to need this deal. Flybe has been undergoing a restructuring to take costs out of the business. As part of the restructuring they have grounded a complete fleet of 14 aircraft, the Embraer E195.

These aircraft are too large for high frequency services in the UK market but too small to compete with low cost airlines on leisure routes.

It is unusual strategy for an airline to ground a fleet if there isn’t a definite disposal plan, if the aircraft can cover their operating costs any contribution towards the lease costs would be better than nothing.

Even though the aircraft are grounded, the lease costs still have to be paid.

It was sensible of Flybe to grab the opportunity of earning some revenue with them at Cardiff.

However, we will have an airline at Cardiff operating two aircraft that it doesn’t want to operate any more because it is the wrong aircraft for the UK market.

The problem then becomes one of how is the airline going to grow the business at Cardiff over the ten years of the agreement?

Five of the E195 fleet have already been disposed of and if flybe see an opportunity to dispose of the rest of the fleet will they still retain two of the aircraft for Cardiff or take the more sensible option of disposing of all of them?

Will they extend the lease on these aircraft in 5 years time or will they be returned? What if there can be further expansion of the Cardiff base, will another aircraft type be operated?

Future options
What is probable is that in the second half of this agreement we will see smaller aircraft being operated, probably turboprops.

Clearly the deal works for both parties in the short term, Cardiff gets more routes and passengers, flybe earns revenue from two unwanted aircraft.

However, we should expect the route network to evolve over the next ten years to one that uses smaller aircraft flying more frequently.

That would be not be a bad outcome for the business traveller but it would be one that doesn’t serve the leisure market that Cardiff is currently so dependent on.

If Flybe doesn’t develop a profitable business at Cardiff Airport over the first few years of this agreement with a strategy that fits in with the rest of the UK business then we can expect the knives will be kept polished for future use.

Sourced from walesonline

Cardiff airport could compete with Bristol for long-haul flights, according to major report on devolution’s impact on the West of England

The IPPR report explores the impact of a ‘stronger’ Wales across the border

A plane takes off from Cardiff Airport; falling air fares have helped drive the drop in inflation
A plane takes off from Cardiff Airport, which is now owned by the Welsh Government

The potential impact of a stronger Wales on the West Of England has been “neglected” and should be investigated, according to a major report which sets out the powers the Assembly could gain in the near future.

The IPPR think tank’s report states that the devolution of Air Passenger Duty (APD) could have “considerable” consequences for Bristol’s airport.

It also flags up key differences between the Wales-England border and the one dividing Scotland and England.

This report, Borderland West: Assessing the Implications of a Stronger Wales for the West of England, comes days before the Wales Office is expected to put forward proposals for the next wave of Welsh devolution.

The report, whose authors include devolution experts Alan Trench and Guy Lodge, states: “Ninety per cent of the Welsh population lives within 50 miles of the English border, and there is a huge amount of connectivity, with 138 million journeys taken between the two countries each year. Whereas Edinburgh and Newcastle are 120 miles apart, and a car journey of two and a half hours, Cardiff and Bristol are just 44 miles apart and under an hour away by road.”

Warning of the impact on Bristol’s airport of devolving APD, it states: “One often-cited fear of increased devolution is the worry that devolving air passenger duty to the Welsh government could damage prospects for international connections from Bristol. Due to the proximity of Cardiff airport, it would be relatively easy for passengers to take their business across the border if it were worth the time and cost of additional connecting travel to do so.”

Arguing that Cardiff could compete for long-haul traffic, the authors write: “Cardiff airport is already in a better position than Bristol in this regard, having a runway that can accommodate Boeing 747s and other large aircraft for maintenance and a number of seasonal long-haul charter flights to the Caribbean. The question of whether Cardiff can attract carriers for scheduled long-haul routes will depend on a number of factors, and no doubt a reduction in APD would make it more attractive…

“Approximately one-fifth of the 6.2 million passengers per annum using Bristol airport have an origin or destination in Wales, further underlining the porous nature of the border between England and Wales. With just 94km between the two airports, there is a significant overlap in catchment areas which makes this highly competitive market particularly sensitive to price differences.”

However, the report notes: “A further issue would arise with the status of Cardiff airport, now that it has been acquired by the Welsh Government. Since Cardiff airport is the only substantial airport in Wales, any use of tax levers which advantaged it would have to satisfy EU rules regarding state aids and ‘state monopolies of a commercial character’ – issues of which the management of Bristol airport are clearly already well aware.”

The authors only expect tax competition from Wales to affect the West of England “to a limited extent”.

Exploring the potential impact of income tax devolution, they write: “Given the extent to which there is a shared labour market between the west of England and south-eastern Wales, devolution of income tax creates scope for a noticeable effect. Depending on the tax decisions made by the National Assembly, there may be an attraction for some workers to live on the Welsh rather than English side of the border, even if they continue to work in England.

“But the amount of such an incentive is small – at most, around £318 per year for workers on the basic rate of income tax, if income tax rates were 1p less in Wales than in England. Moreover, [the] number of workers commuting from Wales even to Bristol is about 10% of the total workforce in the city (and less to the neighbouring local authority areas).

“Such a modest incentive is likely to have a limited impact, even in the medium term – and even if it did, would not affect the resources or labour market in the Bristol area (as workers might move homes but keep a higher-paying job around Bristol). In only a small number of cases would the amount of tax saved or other benefits (such as reduced commuting time) compensate for lower pay levels in Wales.”

Playing down the impact of the devolution of land and property taxes, they state: “[If] price were a significant factor in driving economic competition between the two places, Wales already has considerable advantages when it comes to office space and residential property.”

They note that Wales receives public spending worth £9,740 per head compared to the South West’s £8,171.

Highlighting the lack of financial powers at Bristol’s disposal, they state: “The tools by which Bristol and the west of England are able to determine their own economic future remain highly constrained… Bristol retains little of its own tax base or benefits from growth, and has precious few levers to pull to facilitate economic development free from the restrictive hand of Whitehall.”

Sourced from walesonline

Greyhound halts bus service between Cardiff and Bristol Airport

By Rupert Denholm-Hall.

A Greyhound bus enters Cardiff city centre

Bus operator Greyhound has confirmed it will withdraw its service between Cardiff and Bristol Airport.

The coach service to Bristol Airport began in March 2013 and Greyhound claims it has worked hard to grow passenger numbers.

However, a spokesman for the company said: “Unfortunately, in spite of the hard work and commitment of all of the staff involved in Greyhound we have not been able to reach a point where the service is economically viable along this section of route.

“As a result we have made a decision to withdraw the section of route between Cardiff and Bristol Airport – the exact date that this will happen, will be confirmed shortly.”

Instead of running from Swansea all the way through to Bristol Airport, Greyhound will instead focus on strengthening its core service between Cardiff and Swansea.

The company’s spokesman said: “Our intention is to try and expand this in the months and years ahead, to keep pace with developments along the route (such as the Coed Darcy housing development, and the Swansea Bay University Campus).

“People wishing to travel between South Wales and Bristol Airport after the changes take effect should look to use rail services, connecting with bus services in Bristol instead.

“For instance you can catch a First Great Western train to Bristol Temple Meads station, changing there to the fast and frequent Bristol Flyer bus service to the Airport.”

Sourced by Wales Online

New Norwich link to Cardiff – Things to do in the Welsh capital

It seems strange that a place with such a vivid past is best known as Europe’s youngest capital city. But that’s just one of the unexpected things about Cardiff that makes a visit essential.

National Museum Cardiff

National Museum of Wales
National Museum of Wales, Cardiff

The art collection alone at the National Museum draws visitors from all over the world, with a broad range, including world-renowned impressionist and post-impressionist work, 1930s surrealism and 20th century art from Wales. With natural history, archaeology and geology exhibitions too, best clear the diary for the rest of the day.

More museums and galleries in Cardiff.

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    Wales Millennium Centre

    Millennium Centre
    Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

    You won’t need to ask for directions to the striking slate and steel structure of The Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay. It’s nicknamed The Armadillo due to its copper-coloured dome. The centre hosts a huge range of concerts and performances in one main theatre and two smaller halls. It also features a number of cafes and restaurants, with regular free events creating a vibrant atmosphere.

    More theatre, entertainment and nightlife in Cardiff.

    Chapter Arts Centre

    Chapter Arts Centre
    Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff 

Established in 1971 through various fund-raising projects (including a concert by Pink Floyd), Chapter is a vibrant space hosting a large amount  of events every year in three theatres, two cinemas and a gallery. Entrance is free and with two bars and a café, it creates a relaxed and sociable environment.

Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle, Gatehouse and Grounds, Cardiff
Cardiff Castle, Gatehouse and Grounds, Cardiff by fillbee

The foundations of the castle date back to 50AD, and the imposing building walled with elaborate gargoyles is a 19th century gothic fantasy. It was created by renowned architect William Burges for the third Marquis of Bute, who was reputedly the richest man in the world at the time. It’s a monument to eccentricity that should be on your must-see list.

More history and heritage in Cardiff

The Taff Trail

Taff Trail by Castell Coch
Taff Trail by Castell Coch, near Cardiff

Cardiff has more green space than any other city in Europe, per head of population. The Taff Trail makes the most of former rail routes, towpaths and tramways, allowing you to walk or cycle from Cardiff Bay through 2000 acres of parkland, all the way to the moorland of the Brecon Beacons, if you really need some extra miles to work off that Sunday lunch.

More sightseeing & tours in Cardiff.

Farmers Market

Market stall selling cakes at Cardiff Farmer's Market
Riverside Farmer’s Market, Cardiffby norman preis

The rise of Wales as a paradise for food lovers is reflected by the growth in popularity of farmers’ markets in the Welsh capital city. There are four regular markets in Cardiff, showcasing the rich variety of small businesses in Wales producing their own food and drink. Anyone for bison?

More food and drink in Cardiff.

The Millennium Stadium

Millennium Stadium
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Very few international sports arenas occupy a plot of land in a city centre, but this remarkable stadium really is a sight to behold both inside and out. International rugby and football is played here, as well as a variety of the other sports events and major live music concerts.

More sport and recreation in Cardiff.

Cardiff International White Water

Cardiff International White Water Centre
Cardiff International White Water Centre, Cardiff Bay by CIWW

You won’t go short of action-packed watersports activities in rural Wales. The white water experience, on the other hand, is located in Cardiff Bay, near two of Wales’ most famous urban landmarks. Not that you’ll be able to appreciate the finest architectural points of the National Assembly Building and the Wales Millennium Centre as you go crashing through the rapids in a canoe or on a white water raft.

More watersports in Cardiff

St Fagans National History Museum

Pony & Trap Rides St Fagans
St Fagans Natural History Museum, near Cardiff

Located in a pretty village on the outskirts of the city, the remarkable National History Museum is one of the city’s most popular attractions for visitors. Over 40 buildings, from an Iron Age Celtic village to a row of ironworkers’ houses have been painstakingly rebuilt in 60 acres of beautiful gardens, with many traditional crafts and activities taking place in front of your eyes. Don’t miss the opportunity to bag a loaf of bara brith, a delicious fruitcake from the Derwen Bake House.

The Cardiff Story

Cardiff: The Movie would be a blockbuster. This ancient settlement became the biggest supplier of steel and coal to the world through its docks. People from all over the world settled here, adding a wealth of diversity and character that remains to this day. Appropriately enough, The Cardiff Story is housed in the heart of the city at the imposing Old Library on The Hayes.

Sourced by Visit Wales

New Cardiff & Anglesey link to Norwich – Things to do in Norfolk

Whatever your interests, whatever your age, whether you’re on your own, as a couple or with kids, Norfolk and surrounding areas have things to do for you all. Find things to do in Norwich, the Norfolk Broads and the surrounding areas at any time of the year.

Norfolk is a great place to enjoy outdoor activities and sports. There’s plenty of things to do in the Norfolk Broads; boating and sailing, canoeing and kayaking, whether on the Norfolk Broads or at sea; great opportunities to fish, or just go crabbing or rockpooling; or you could ride horses or take a flutter on them at Fakenham or Great Yarmouth.

We don’t agree with Noel Coward’s Private Lives ‘Very flat, Norfolk’ comment, but it’s true we don’t have many mountains. Gently undulating would be more like it, which makes cycling and walking through beautiful countryside and along unspoilt coast an absolute joy. Or you could let a train take the strain.

Wondering what to do in Norfolk? We have fabulous golf courses (although it can get a bit Crazy in Great Yarmouth), including links, and if you can’t have a break without a twitch, we have some of the best birdwatching in the UK.

There are so many things to see in Norfolk; art lovers and culture vultures will be in their element. You’ll find many galleries and exhibitions, and concerts range from classical at country houses to outdoor pop in Thetford Forest. Festivals include beer, literature, food and drink and the biggest of them all – the Norfolk and Norwich Festival in May.

Whatever the weather, Norfolk has attractions to suit all tastes and pockets, from adventure parks to animals in zoos, from historic houses to excellent gardens and museums.

Norfolk is also a county where history comes to life – and what a history it is, ranging from Seahenge, which has been dated to around 2050BC, to the award-winning Time & Tide museum which tells the story of the Great Yarmouth fishing industry. Those who have left their mark on Norfolk include Romans, Saxons, Normans, Dutch and Americans. Figures from history include Boudicca and Nelson, whose national importance is such that their statues top-and-tail Whitehall in London, and the Hollywood actor James Stewart earned honours as a courageous second world war air force commander flying from a base in Norfolk.

For more things to do see our Inspire and What’s On sections

Sourced by Visit Norfolk