Swansea and Cardiff want long-haul flights, but they would be unlikely if there was a 3rd Heathrow runway
Swansea airport hopes it could benefit from an air link to a Chinese city. It hopes to be able to boost the airport, and possibly provide business benefits locally. Swansea and Pembrey have been earmarked as potential locations for Chinese business development, with the aim of cutting travel times to key cities. However, a leading transport expert cast doubts over Swansea’s suitability as a regional airport, especially if Cardiff nearby – the main regional airport – has a link to Qatar. If there was a 3rd Heathrow runway, the chance of long haul flights to countries like China, from regional airports, would be diminished – even DfT data indicate that, as Heathrow would focus the most profitable routes. The leader of Swansea council, Rob Stewart said: “Cardiff Airport is still our national airport but we need regional airports to support that ….We want to be able to service the business people to London and the Northern Powerhouse. With the links we have with China and Cardiff Airport with the Middle East [Qatar Airways], I think there’s potential for investment into a regional airport. Air links were one of the things discussed during one of the recent visits to China.”
China links could aid regional airport bid for Swansea
30 April 2018 (BBC)
A regional airport linking south west Wales to hubs such as London, Manchester and short-haul routes into Europe, could be brought to life with the help of links to China.
Swansea and Pembrey have been earmarked as potential locations with the aim of cutting travel times to key cities. Both areas have airports but neither operate scheduled flights.
But a leading transport expert cast doubts over Swansea’s suitability as a regional airport. Swansea has a tiny airport. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swansea_Airport
Swansea council has close links with the Chinese city of Wuhan with possible flights to China a longer-term plan.
“Cardiff Airport is still our national airport but we need regional airports to support that,” said Swansea council leader Rob Stewart.
“Swansea, Pembrey and others have the potential to service that. We want to be able to service the business people to London and the Northern Powerhouse.
“With the links we have with China and Cardiff Airport with the Middle East [Qatar Airways], I think there’s potential for investment into a regional airport. Air links were one of the things discussed during one of the recent visits to China.”
Mr Stewart said it would provide some comfort to the UK government’s U-turn on electrifying the railway to Swansea.
But Stuart Cole, Professor of Transport at the University of South Wales, said Cardiff Airport’s links with Qatar Airways would mean it would be very difficult for Swansea to develop as a regional airport.
“The truth is Cardiff Airport is a regional airport and it has very good access with the new service to Qatar and that will give connecting links via Doha to the Far East,” he said.
“To become anything other than a feeder airport it requires a longer runway. In the long term perhaps it’s a possibility but the facilities would have to be developed.
“It’s a nice idea but it’s too near Cardiff and west Wales doesn’t have a big enough population to run a regional airport.”
It is not the first attempt to use Swansea and Pembrey as regional airports.
They were both bases for Air Wales which launched in 2000 but the airline only lasted six years blaming “spiralling costs” and “aggressive competition” from larger low-cost airlines.
And two years ago, Swansea businessman Martin Morgan told a travel magazine he wanted launch regional flights from the city.
But even Cardiff Airport has struggled with some regional services.
Its daily flight to Anglesey has been beset with problems involving providers and most recently a daily service from Cardiff to London was scrapped because not enough passengers were using it.
However, Mr Stewart believes there is scope to make a success of a regional airport, citing Ireland and Scotland as examples.
“If the right deal, investment and proposal can be agreed then there is real potential for expansion of regional airports and we will be considering this as part of the city region transport strategy,” he added.
“The majority of people want the city to have a regional airport.”
Cardiff to London City Airport flights to end in October
9 August 2017 (BBC)
Flights between Cardiff and London will end in October, it has been announced.
Carrier Flybe launched the route when the closure of the Severn Tunnel for work disrupted rail travel between the capitals in September 2016.
But, because of demand, the temporary service continued when the tunnel fully reopened later that year.
Now Flybe’s chief revenue officer Vincent Hodder has said passenger levels are not enough to make it “commercially sustainable”.
He added: “Despite the investment and hard work by all parties involved to build the market, and the passionate support of a small group of regular passengers, the results have not reached the level required.”
The last flight from Cardiff to London City Airport will be on Friday 27 October.
Economy Secretary Ken Skates said the ending of the service was “disappointing”, adding the company had said that impact of air passenger duty on shorter flights was one of the reasons for cancelling the route.
“I would again call on the UK government to devolve air passenger duty to Wales and to immediately allocate the £700m it saved through its decision not to electrify the mainline to Swansea to the Welsh Government,” he said.
“This will enable us to progress our plans to provide passengers in Wales with the transport services they deserve.”