Cardiff Airport has become a ‘black hole of taxpayers’ money’ say Lib Dems
Cardiff Airport has become a “black hole of taxpayers’ money” that has never met the Welsh Government’s own targets for passenger numbers, the Liberal Democrats have said.
Figures released by the Welsh Government today show that passenger numbers at the airport continued to decline in 2021 from 2020 despite fewer travel restriction being in place.
According to the data released, passenger numbers declined by 44 per cent in 2021 to 123,000.
The Welsh Government, which bought Cardiff Airport in 2013 fort £52m – but it is now valued at £15m – said that passenger numbers had increased before the Covid pandemic struck.
But Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said that the project was now a white elephant, with over £210 million of Welsh taxpayers’ money spent on it.
“We urgently need the Labour Government to outline their plans for ending this blackhole that has already wasted far too much of taxpayer’s money,” she said.
“Almost ten years on from the purchase the Welsh Liberal Democrats warned against we have been more than vindicated. The airport continues to make massive losses and is now worth only a fraction of its purchase price.
“Imagine what £210 million in taxpayers’ money could have done for public transport across Wales had it not been squandered on this project?
“It is also worth mentioning that the Welsh Government owning and subsidising an airport, alongside subsidising domestic flights, is not compatible with its climate goals.
“We are clear that the airport should eventually be returned to the private sector. While the airport does remain under Government ownership, they need to prioritise securing new routes, especially to more short-haul EU destinations, in addition to securing long-haul routes which currently don’t exist after Qatar Airways exit from the airport.
“We also need to see better marketing and public transport access to the airport put in place.
“We have had 10 years of what must be Welsh Labour’s biggest white elephant, it is long past time we demand better from the Welsh Government on this issue.”
The Welsh Government said that the decrease in passengers between 2020 and 2021 was due to the continuing pandemic.
“Air transport in Wales was significantly affected in 2020 by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic due to the impact of both domestically imposed travel restrictions and worldwide restrictions,” they said.
“This impact was still seen in 2021 with some travel restrictions still in place, contributing to a further decrease in air passenger numbers.
“The number of passengers using Cardiff Airport fell sharply at the start of the COVID pandemic in 2020. In 2021 passenger numbers decreased by 44% compared with 2020 to 123,000 (Chart 1). This includes both arrivals and departures.”
The Welsh Government also noted that passenger numbers had been rising before the Covid pandemic hit.
“After falling from the peak in 2007, passenger numbers increased between 2014 and 2019,” they said.
“There was then a large decrease in passenger numbers of 87% in 2020 when compared to the previous year, following the start of the coronavirus pandemic.”
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