Santa Baby, I really do need ...


... the deed to ... well I don't know what you were expecting for Christmas but what you've got is an airport.

At least, what you have is the promise that all being well, the Welsh Government will deliver Cardiff Airport neatly wrapped - back into public ownership - next year.

It's not a case of waiting for the sales, we're told. It's a case of negotiating with the current owners, TBI, thrashing out a deal and working out exactly how many "tens of millions" the airport is worth.

Ieuan Air? Pah. Carwyn's buying the whole damn shebang.

The First Minister has certainly long since stopped treading carefully as far as Cardiff International is concerned. He was concerned when it lost out to an ash cloud. He was fed up when it lost BMIbaby, lost patience when it went on to lose hundreds of thousands of passengers, before losing its managing director too.

Then the mood changed. When asked in those quiet moments before interviews or after press conferences how things were going with solving the airport's problems, Mr Jones would get that look in his eyes of a boy who once got a model airplane in his Christmas stocking. He'd give nothing away - but suggest that things were moving, the relationship was much more positive between government and owner.

How we know why. He's put his money where his mouth is - and says there'll be no subsidies. Rather there'll be an expectation that the airport pays its way. It must "demonstrate a return to the taxpayer".

Bear in mind the announcement comes a day before the Assembly is recalled, and was made without prior notice to AMs.

Plaid leader Leanne Wood was immediately positive. "Cardiff Airport is our national airport and Plaid Cymru believes it should be deserving of the title."

Holding talks was the right thing to do - as long as this will be about nabbing passengers who currently drive to airports further afield, not adding to the overall size of our carbon footprint. wonder what the view of that would be in Bristol.

The Liberal Democrats' Eluned Parrott is worried.

"The kind of investment called for by the Welsh Government over the last year is no more affordable to taxpayers than it is to private businesses. I feel the airport will simply become a money pit, sucking in public funds at a time of economic restraint which will deliver no obvious return". What she wants for Christmas is a business plan.

But it's the Conservatives who've gone in hardest (other than Mohammad Asghar AM who immediately tweeted his delight at the good news - a tweet he's since taken down.)

Andrew RT Davies warned the First Minister would have to "work very hard to convince us that this move will represent value for tax-payer money and, equally important, deliver the improvements that are needed".

His party would work as a "constructive opposition" but Mr Davies is unconvinced.

But it's Alun Cairns MP, in whose constituency the airport is sited, who struck the hardest blows.

"The timing is remarkable. They have just refused to freeze council tax. Are about to extend its reach. They don't have money to pay for a cancer drugs fund, NHS and Ambulance targets are being missed, yet they have money to purchase an airport.

"Only two weeks ago, I took two private investors to see the owners. They were keen to support. The Welsh Government is squeezing out private interest. I have also been talking to an international airline who has exciting prospects for Cardiff and the Vale. Their actions sends all the wrong messages.

"I so hope I am wrong about this because I will always support the airport and the extension of routes but this smacks of the WDA take over all over again. I fear we are witnessing a disaster in action."

If this works, there is no doubt that Carwyn Jones will be applauded for making such a bold move as 2012 draws to a close. It it doesn't, there's equally little doubt that the cost of the turkey he bought for Christmas 2012 will be thrown at him for years to come.

Betsan Powys Article written by Betsan Powys Betsan Powys Former political editor, Wales

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  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    It's amazing how some folk can delude themselfs that Barry airport will ever be viable. Bristol airport serves a huge area of affluent travellers, anyone outside South Wales is faced with a minimum £6 toll to even get to Barry. Ok it may "serve" mid and west Wales, but farmers and the retired are not wealthy travelling types... Where are the flyers going to come from ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    ... wooodsey, the problem with the airport issue is the lack of information, basic information about how much the politicians will spend initially, and the annual budget projections.

    Politicians and business is, I fear, an oxymoron ............

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    @106 treat it anyway you like but continually getting my posts deleted does not alter the fact that you are not (as you claim to be) a different ethnic group to anyone else on this island just because you have been taught some ancient language as a child. Linguistic ability does not equal ethnicity... sooner you stop deluding yourself of that and playing the race card the better!

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    Agree entirely. So everytime we have a problem with MPs we don't get rid of a democratically elected government. Eitherwise the English Government along with others would not exist. We get rid of the drose or vote in another party and make it a better government whether it be in London, Edinburgh or Cardiff

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    @108 'woodsey'
    Yes, woodsey. English, Scottish and Northern Ireland MPs/MEPs are equally guilty of feathering their nests via allowances/expenses.


Comments 5 of 114


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