Wizz Air pulls out of Cardiff Airport
A budget airline has announced it will close its Cardiff base less than a year after it opened.
Wizz Air confirmed today it will cease all operations at Cardiff Airport permanently.
When the the Hungarian airline opened its base in Cardiff in 2020, it planned to offer a capacity of around 350,000 seats.
But in August last year the airline announced it would temporarily suspend its flights from Cardiff during the winter as it wasn’t “commercially viable”.
Wizz Air also closed its Doncaster Sheffield base last year and an aviation regulator said it had “significant concerns” about complaints from passengers.
The Welsh Government which owns Cardiff airport said in a statement: “We’re obviously disappointed that Wizz Air has decided to withdraw from Cardiff Airport.
“Our Covid recovery plan remains in place, but clearly the current economic climate is incredibly tough for the aviation sector.
“Smaller airports are vital to regional economies across the UK and we urge the UK Government to provide the support to put them on a secure footing for the future.”
Wizz Air have offered customers either a 120% refund in airline credit, a 100% cash refund or another flight from one of its other bases.
Cardiff Airport is encouraging customers to rebook with an alternative operator.
Wizz Air managing director Marion Geoffroy said: “The challenging macro-economic environment and high operational costs including fuel mean that unfortunately we are unable to continue operating from Cardiff Airport.
“We sincerely apologise to our customers in Wales and the south-west of England for the disruption and inconvenience that this will cause.
“Our priority now is to ensure that all affected customers are contacted directly with clear advice on their options, and to look after our Cardiff based colleagues and crew.
Staff working at Wizz Air’s Cardiff base will be offered positions the carriers other UK bases.
Reacting to the announcement, Welsh Conservative Shadow Transport, Minister Natasha Asghar MS called the airlines closure “a real shame”.
Minister Natasha Asghar MS added: “More worryingly is what this means for the airport itself – I really want to see it flourish in private hands but instead in languishes in the ownership of the Labour Government who is flying the airport off the runway into terminal decline.
“We can see this most clearly when looking at passenger numbers at Cardiff which are down 44% on pre-pandemic levels when Bristol Airport is down just 5%.
“It also shows a wider failure of a strategy from Labour ministers who think a successful way to run a transport network is to cluelessly run its only commercial airport, ban roadbuilding, impose lower speed limits without local consultation, and run poor quality trains.”
Commenting on the airline’s closure, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader, Jane Dodds said: “Serious questions now need to be answered about Labour’s strategy for the future of the Airport. With a bill of £210 million since the Welsh Government purchased the Airport and no sign of things improving, taxpayers will rightly be asking what value for money they are getting.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats led to charge against the purchase of the Airport from the private sector in 2013 and we have continued to be vindicated since. Imagine what £210 million of taxpayers’ money could have done if it had been plowed into sustainable transport in Wales instead.”
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