Spanish strike: Vueling's first Cardiff-Barcelona flight cancelled

Vueling Airbus A general strike in Spain has led to the cancellation of Vueling's first UK flight

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The first flight of a new air service between Cardiff and Barcelona has been cancelled because of a general strike in Spain.

The Spanish budget airline Vueling says its first service between the two cities will now take off on Saturday.

Vueling unveiled its service in October last year, two days before Bmibaby halted its services from Cardiff amid concerns at falling passenger numbers.

Vueling will operate flights three times per week.

The flights, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, will be the airline's first direct UK service to Barcelona.

In January, the firm revealed it will also fly three times a week to Alicante and Palma, Majorca, from 22 June from Cardiff.

That announcement was welcomed by the Welsh government as further opening up closer business and tourism links between Wales and Spain.

The airport became the focus of political criticism this month following the publication of figures showing terminal and transit passengers at Cardiff fell 13% last year to a little more than 1.2m.

Over the same period, passenger numbers at Bristol rose 1% to more than 5.7m.

First Minister Carwyn Jones reacted by saying the airports Spanish owners, Abertis, should run it "properly" or sell it.

Departure board at Cardiff Airport Passenger numbers were down 13% at Cardiff airport last year.

He said he would not want to welcome visitors to Wales through the airport because of the bad impression it gives of the country.

This week he told the Western Mail newspaper that he would set up and chair a group of experts aimed at boosting the airport.

In evidence to AMs this month at inquiry on the contribution to the economy of airports and ports, the airport said it was "extremely active" in marketing to airlines in the UK, Europe, the USA and the rest of the world.

It said it serves about 45% of the demand for air travel from south Wales, with other passengers mainly using Heathrow and Bristol airports.

Bristol serves a bigger and more affluent catchment area, it added.

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