Woes at Cardiff Airport
Although a few year ago, bmi baby was responsible for about a third of all flights from the airport, this had dropped to below 15% last year. Blaming the economic climate, the airline said that it wanted to concentrate its efforts at airports where it had a strong presence. You could argue that it had one at Cardiff. Until it let it slip as others saw the advantages of using the airport. Even as it announced it was leaving after the end of the summer season, a service to Zurich was beginning by Helvetic Airways and follows expansion by manx2.com and Air Southwest.
The airport can draw comfortably on a catchment of about 2.5 million people if you add some of the marcher counties to those living in South Wales. Eleven airports currently service the airport (10 after bmi baby leaves) with flybe, KLM and Aer Lingus providing linking services and Thomas Cook and Thomson Airways supporting the charter market. About 1.4 million people fly from Cardiff in 2010 with more than four times that number flying from Bristol. Indeed many people prefer to fly from Bristol despite the need to pay a thumping toll on the return journey. Why? Surely the owners of the airport have asked themselves that question? The first answer might be that Cardiff doesn’t have an easyJet or a Ryanair with all the hundreds of thousands of passengers that brings. The second might be promotional activities. Bristol airport was in New York earlier in the year pushing its international links via Aer Lingus. Was Cardiff? No
Earlier this year, Prof Jones-Evans of the University of Glamorgan wrote that the airport was dying a slow death. It isn’t. Yet. But it does need to encourage more business.