Cardiff Airport’s performance woes and Carwyn Jones’ airport task force

In May this year you may have seen news of an investigation being conducted by the First Minister Carwyn Jones, with the help of a task force of various groups that have a stake in the airport.

One of the groups who were asked to make a representation to the task force is the Vale of Glamorgan Council. As we’ve noted before, because of new leadership the original Local Development Plan, including the rail spur suggestion, has been discarded. Council leader Neil Moore has talked about going ‘back to the drawing board’ on more than one occasion.

According to BBC News today, Cardiff Airport has suffered a drop in passenger numbers in a comparison of the first half of 2012 with the same period in 2011. Another group on the task force is the Airport itself who have given some pretty clear clues in today’s article about what they would like to see. A spokesperson gave a key reason for the unfortunate drop in passenger numbers:

The airport said the majority of the fall was due to the decision of bmibaby to pull out of Cardiff.

Then an echo of what Steve Hodgetts, the commercial director of the Airport, said in March this year:

The spokesperson added that route development remained a priority for the airport, which was working closely with the Welsh government through the newly established Airport Taskforce and Enterprise Zone.

In fact the Airport has never lobbied or asked or expressed a desire for a direct rail spur to answer its woes. It’s clear from the bmibaby example that retention of airlines is very important. It’s also clear that route development – that is, more and better air routes around the world including new partnerships with additional airlines – is what will help to bring more passengers to the airport.

As far as we’re aware the task force investigation is still ongoing and we’re looking forward to the findings when they are eventually published. Given the early signs given by the Council and the Airport – two influential members of the task force – we’d be willing to bet that the idea of a direct rail spur in the Vale of Glamorgan won’t be among the recommendations. Let’s hope so at least.