Bristol congestion charge could boost Cardiff Airport passenger numbers
Aviation experts are predicting the introduction of a new congestion charge in Bristol later this year could provide a welcome boost to Cardiff Airport, which almost went bust during the Covid pandemic.
It’s estimated that up to 30% of all passengers using Bristol Airport come from the south of Wales and although it lies outside the city’s new Clean Air Zone (CAZ) the most popular route for passengers driving from Wales goes through the charging zone.
Cars driving through the CAZ will have to pay at least £18 for a return trip unless drivers have the very latest euro 6 diesel or low-emission petrol cars.
Following the scrapping of tolls to cross the Severn bridge in 2018, the airport saw a significant increase in Welsh passengers and there are fears in Bristol this could be reversed, to the benefit of Cardiff Airport. once the congestion charge is introduced over the summer.
Although Cardiff doesn’t offer the same number of routes as Bristol, UK Aviation News predicts the new charges plus the presence of the new low-cost airline Wizz Air could attract additional passengers.
Wizz Air, which also has UK bases in Gatwick, Luton and Doncaster, will fly to Portugal, Greece, Spain and Egypt from this Friday, while Vueling currently serves Mallorca and Alicante and Ryanair flies to Faro.
The airline is expected to put on sale just over 200,000 seats for its inaugural summer season in Wales, with the airport hopeful of achieving around 75% capacity.
Cardiff Airport was purchased by the Welsh Government for £52 million in March 2013 and it subsequently purchased additional equity totalling £9.3m.
Last year government auditors valued the facility at just £15 million and ministers had to step in with a grant of £42.6m and wrote off £42.6m in taxpayer-funded loans to help it survive the impact of the Covid pandemic.
The Economy Minister at the time, Ken Skates, said Covid had a “catastrophic” impact on the airport, and it faced imminent closure if the government had not taken action.
A Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) report last year showed Cardiff suffered an 87% decline in passenger at the height of the pandemic, the worst of any UK airport.
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