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Cardiff Airport has become a ‘black hole of taxpayers’ money’ say Lib Dems

08 Jun 2022 3 minutes Read
Cardiff Airport. Photo by Jonathan Winton and is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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.”

‘Pandemic’

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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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
28 days ago

Excellent points here. We do need to stop subsiding this, the figures speak for themselves. However, I think we do need to approach this carefully, as with any decision on infrastructure we should think in ecological/biological terms, economics, etc… but we must also come up with some kind of way to satisfy those who do use the airport… We must also keep in mind, that on a world scale CARS and personal vehicles produce a great deal of pollution too and we need to think big picture, RATHER than trying to get a bit of political clout. Airtravel and personal… Read more »

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
28 days ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

Do we? A commercial airport in Wales is essential to our infrastructure especially if we want to become more self-reliant from our neighbours. The airport is coming under increased pressure from Westminster and neighbouring airports such as Bristol, who would like to see it closed in order to increase their own profits and deprive us of vital infrastructure. I am not sure what the answer is but by doing away with it, we are giving our unionist “friends” exactly what they want. Lose this airport and they will make it very difficult for us to have another in Wales, much… Read more »

Gareth
Gareth
28 days ago

The airport will continue to suffer when It Is indirectly controlled by London. Landing fees and airport duty are kept artificially high, so as not to compete with Bristol, and Birmingham, this has even been admitted by the Torys themselves, to the delight of cheer leader for Bristol ,A Cairns MP. Manchester is controlled by local councils, but is not subject to the same controls as Cardiff. Cardiff is the only regional airport that is subject to London interference, in other airports APD is devolved.

Gareth
Gareth
28 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

This is another example of keeping Cymru ” in its place”.If we were allowed to operate in our interests it would reflect badly on how London rule affects us, ie Covid management,working for our benefits, not what is good for England. Devolution of justice, denied, control of the police denied, but given to Scotland N Ireland even Manchester and London. Crown estates devolved, but not Cymru. If we were to have control and it benefited us, we would not need the UK . So the default position of London is, deny us any and everything, and keep us dependant on… Read more »

Last edited 28 days ago by Gareth
SundanceKid
SundanceKid
28 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

The Lib Dens were the Tories’ bedfellows up until 7 years ago.

They are not to be trusted and are certainly not interested in our country’s best interests.

hdavies15
hdavies15
28 days ago

So the critics can rightly point out that over 200 million has been spent on the airport buying it and shoring up deficits etc. Then we get the usual list of “other things” that deserved that spend or part of it. However given the Bay regime’s bad habits when it comes to blowing cash there is no guarantee that any of those resources would have actually reached any service’s point of delivery. It all gets sucked out by administration, consultants, surveys, consultations etc etc. The airport is just a symptom. We need a new relationship, preferably independence from UK, and… Read more »

Last edited 28 days ago by hdavies15
Nobby Tart
Nobby Tart
28 days ago

Let’s hope Qatar Airways come back soon, if they do intend on coming back. Imagine the tickets they could’ve sold on Monday. If the LibDems and Tories pay attention, the Aviation industry has been completely whacked by events over the past few years. It’ll take time to fully catch up. I’m glad to see KLM have reintroduced their early morning Cardiff to Amsterdam flight, which enables connections all over the world. I have my fingers crossed that this is the start of something. We could do with Flybe 2.0 returning to the airport too, but I’d wager that all depends… Read more »

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
28 days ago

New Zealand has 62 airports…..Wales has one! Just saying

Nobby Tart
Nobby Tart
28 days ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

To be fair, we have more than one.
At one point, Ryanair were contemplating running services from Pembrey and we did have Air Wales flying from Swansea.

Though as international airports go, Cardiff is the one at the moment.

Last edited 28 days ago by Nobby Tart
Ap Kenneth
28 days ago

All UK airports have lost money in 2020 and 2021 and takes no account of the other businesses around the airport, plane maintenance, private pilot training, or off-site car parking at the Highwayman, all of which adds to economic activity in the area . As for bad for the enviroment another article today says the Cardiff-Ynys Mon link is being abandoned and like is happening with cars planes will either be electrified or will be re-engineered to run on carbon neutral fuels.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
28 days ago
Reply to  Ap Kenneth

I think that you are unlikely to see aviation run on carbon free fuels. That is, I am informed, the myth that the industry puts out so that they don’t get leaned on to cut emissions or get fairly taxed on their fuel like other users. Wales is, as usual in a difficult place being hamstrung by Westminster. Clearly the first thing we need it to get the same powers as the rest of the country in terms of setting fees, etc. In the longer term we need to be thinking about how we are going to phase out aviation… Read more »

Richard
Richard
28 days ago

Where has all this come from ? The Lib Dems need to stay clear of becoming a cheer leader for ARTD and crew.

We need solutions through
partnerships and imaginative thinking. There are plenty of good examples across the small
Nations a Regions of Europe.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
28 days ago
Reply to  Richard

They have always been Tory cheerleaders.

Remember the 2010 UK Conservative – Lib Dem coalition?

Leopards and spots spring to mind.

hdavies15
hdavies15
27 days ago
Reply to  SundanceKid

Leopards and spots ? More like boils and arses !

Richard
Richard
27 days ago
Reply to  SundanceKid

I also remember the Lib Lab pact at Westmister and the Lab / Lib
Welsh Gvt ! This weeks pact is in
Powys – yep another Lib / Lab pact….

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
26 days ago
Reply to  Richard

And in several other Councils, they are agreeing to prop up minority Conservatives or Independents, even when those groups have lost a considerable number of seats due to unpopular right-wing local policies. They are one of the few parties who will work with other parties from either side of the political spectrum.

Unfortunately, I have not seen much evidence that they are interested in what is best for Wales. Until I see otherwise, I will defer judgement.

Last edited 26 days ago by SundanceKid

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