Cardiff airport lacks long-term plan, warn ministers

A committee of Welsh government ministers has criticised Cardiff airport for not having a long-term growth plan after it missed passenger growth targets.

Although passenger numbers grew in 2013-14 after the airport was bought by the Welsh government for £52 million, they fell last year to just over one million.

The airport now expects numbers to rise to 1.4 million by 2017-18, which is lower than was forecast in a 2013 business plan which predicted two million passengers.

Darren Millar, Public Accounts Committee chairman and Conservative Assembly Member, said it was clear the airport had been “in decline” before 2013, and “prospects for turning it around under its previous ownership were bleak”.

“We also recognise the importance to Wales of having its own international airport and the wider benefits for Wales arising from this,” he added.

“However, although the airport has the potential to grow significantly, we note its progress against the acquisition business plan in terms of passenger growth are behind target.”

Welsh transport minister, Edwina Hart, said: “If we had not acted swiftly the airport would have undoubtedly closed.

“Instead, customer satisfaction is now at an all-time high with 1.2 million passengers using the airport over the past 12 months – the highest level since 2011.”

A KPMG report on the purchase of the airport has suggested the site was worth £20 million to £30 million, according to the BBC.

The report said: “We remained unconvinced that the Welsh government had a clear negotiation strategy, and we question the decision to make an initial offer of £55 million, with a view to negotiating the purchase price down afterwards.”