Cardiff Airport buyout threatens Bristol, says MEP

Ashley Fox MEP
Image caption Mr Fox is urging the European Commission to investigate the Cardiff Airport buyout deal

The future of Bristol Airport could be threatened by a buyout of Cardiff Airport, a South West MEP has warned.

Ashley Fox says he has written to the European Commission to ask whether the Welsh Government buying the airport breaches EU state aid rules.

The Conservative MEP for the South West and Gibraltar said the purchase could provide Cardiff Airport with an unfair advantage over other regional airports.

Last year it was announced that a buyout agreement had been reached.

First Minister Carwyn Jones announced in December that the Welsh government wanted to buy Cardiff Airport from its current owner, TBI, to secure its future.

Sources suggest it could cost "tens of millions" of pounds to buy the airport.

Mr Jones said it would be run by an independent operator on the government's behalf, it would not receive subsidies and it would make a "return to the Welsh taxpayer" as well as the private operator.

But Mr Fox said the decision by the Welsh Labour government was "waste of taxpayers' money".

He said the purchase "could also provide Cardiff Airport with an unfair advantage over other regional operatives who are not in receipt of government funds, such as Bristol Airport".

"The Welsh Government needs to decide whether purchasing an airport deemed by the Civil Aviation Authority to be its worst-performing is really the best way to spend public funds, and seriously consider whether they are in breach of EU law.

"The European Commission should now investigate this as a matter of urgency."

The CAA recently published provisional passenger numbers for Cardiff Airport, which showed numbers had fallen by 16.1% in 2012.

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