Key role for our airport Hub in the future of our City Region

Posted: November 21, 2012 in Business/Cardiff News, Opinion
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I feel at last that there is a real impetus being directed at our transport infrastructure in the City Region. The recently published and long-awaited preferred strategy for the Local Development Plan for Cardiff referred to the vital importance of improving road, rail and air transport to, from and within the City Region. We now have the last crucial part of the jigsaw being considered: the airport.

As Sion Barry states in today’s Western Mail Business section, the Western Gateway project chaired by entrepreneur Rudi Plaut (whom I know well and whose experience is considerable) recently submitted plans to the Department of Transport for the development of the Cardiff Airport as a Hub.

It seems to me that we should really support what is a low-cost option for the Airport’s future. With the improved rail links already planned between South Wales and Heathrow, and the electrification scheme, for as Sion states a “modest” £280 million investment in a new terminal and expanded runway Cardiff could increase its current passenger numbers of 1 million to equal Bristol’s 5.7 million!

This “modest” sum could be raised by Welsh Government, and commitment from Airport owners Abertis. With other local rail/road links in the region being planned Cardiff can become a significant Hub airport for the UK.

The numbers as Sion mentions are really exciting. Every year 1.7 million passengers living in South Wales fly out of London airports. 738,000 take flights from Bristol and 112,000 from Birmingham. Indeed, living close to the M4 I feel very frustrated when I travel by air that once on the motorway I turn left to Bristol, and not right to Rhoose!

The Silk report  recommending the devolution of air passenger duty to the Welsh Government will be published this week, and a submission to the Davies Commission set up by the Prime Minister to consider provision of greater airport capacity is also due soon. The timing is right for everyone involved to seize this opportunity and make our airport a key part of the City Region transport offer to citizens, visitors, airlines and inward investors.

Timing is everything in life. Let’s hope our masters realise this and support strongly the promotion of Cardiff Airport as a Hub airport for the UK.

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