Sunday, 1 January 2017

Cardiff Airport

First post of the new year ... and this year I'll try to post more, but for a start, this from Wales On Line (sometimes Wales' answer to the Daily Mail - at least in terms of sensationalism)...

15 safest holiday destinations for 2017 and flight prices from Cardiff

All well and good, apart from the obvious sensationalism placing Belgium, Spain in almost the same category as Iraq and Syria...and on a personal note missing the World's safest country - Finland - from the mix.

What actually struck me about this article was the HUGE price disparity between flying from Cardiff than some other regional airports. This can be attributed to a number of things, mainly classic bad management over the years (this seems to have changed a little since the Welsh Government took over), but Cardiff has suffered from a management that has been quite content not to develop the airport.

This can be seen in the prices charged and the number of airlines coming to Cardiff, for example, flights to Iceland from the above article: Flights from Cardiff start from around £223, but can be picked up for less than £70 from London or Manchester. The price differential here covers travel from South Wales to London by practically anything other than a private limousine.

How about Poland? Great country and just a mere £142 from Cardiff, but only £20 from Newcastle or Birmingham. Malta? With a change of flight at £183 from Cardiff, or, less than £30 from those international heavyweights of airprots: Bournemouth, Glasgow and Nottingham...

Shopping around of course you might get better deals and Wales On Line probably isn't the best place to get your flight information in this respect. However the situation remains that Cardiff is expensive, especially with scheduled flights more or less limited to FlyBe and KLM and no cheap operators available: Norwegian HINT!!!

For Cardiff Airport to succeed a few things need to happen. Firstly the management of the airport need to get airlines and thus people to the airport - lower fees and even make a loss in certain areas but a profit overall. Control over airport taxes by the Welsh Government is critical and then finally a little more self promotion around the World, or at least Europe - maybe even China - I'm sure that even Wales could market itself from both a tourist and business perspective to the Chinese...

The situation gets even more surreal when you consider that the Cardiff region is supposed to be one of the fastest growing in the UK, yet Wales relies upon Heathrow and Bristol instead of a perfectly functional airport right next to its own capital city. Northern Ireland manages to support two airports - one of which  actually handles a reasonable amount of intercontinental flights, Scotland has five airports (Aberdeen, Inverness, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Prestwick) with Newcastle not too far from the border. Even some of the regional English airports such as Bournemouth and Exeter look better than Cardiff.

What Cardiff Airport needs is a management who have a vision and the confidence to attempt to make things better, get more business, get more tourists etc. In some ways Cardiff Airport still suffers from the problem that the Welsh Tourist Authority (or whatever they were called) had in that for them to do anything they had to ask the English Tourist Authority permission ... it still feels the same way.

In post-Brexit UK, the devolved countries of the UK, especially Wales, can not afford to sit back and hope for business. Cardiff Airport has a lot going for it with a major maintenance base for BA and another in St.Athan next door, GE Engines in Caerffili, a rail link (just about) and a runway that can handle 747s and A380s*, it just lacks any form of confidence.

*Not that you're going to see either regularly in passenger duty - unfortunately.


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