Cardiff Airport: Call to make jobs and freight main aims
Cardiff Airport needs to develop freight services and its business zone, a former senior manager has said.
Peter Phillips questioned the scope for attracting more flights, after Flybe announced plans to close its base.
A former advisor to Brisbane and Amsterdam airports, he said both had helped create tens of thousands of jobs by focusing on cargo and freight.
Cardiff Airport bosses said they were focused on exploring "innovative ways" to create new business opportunities.
Mr Phillips, the airport's former head of marketing, said Brisbane and Amsterdam both had "highly commercial, driven, economic development areas based around airports".
"They have produced tens of thousands of jobs and made huge contributions to their airports' businesses," he said.
The former advisor to the European Regions Airline Association also said transport links should be improved.
These could include direct trains to the airport from cities such as Gloucester and Cheltenham and scheduling more TrawsCymru bus services to stop there - linking the airport to Aberystwyth and towns in mid Wales.
Travel expert Simon Calder praised officials at Cardiff Airport, calling it "a miracle" they secured the Qatar Airways flights to Doha.
He said there was potential for flights to new markets such as Istanbul in Turkey and Heathrow for onward worldwide destinations, adding that a limited number of budget airlines could provide more flights.
In terms of freight, Mr Calder said the UK template should be East Midlands Airport.
But he added: "It does well because it's in the middle of the country, quite close to everywhere (in the midlands).
"The optimum place for an airport in Wales would be between Cardiff and Newport, adjacent to a railway line."
A Welsh Government spokesman pointed to "a considerable amount of good work" taking place around Cardiff Airport and the wider St Athan Enterprise Zone.
Large areas of the site are currently being prepared for development while the St Athan airfield has just been taken over from the Ministry of Defence.
The spokesman said the area already supports thousands of jobs, many of them at the Aston Martin plant, and there are plans for a £55m Cardiff and Vale College campus.
A review of the TrawsCymru long distance bus and coach network is also set to include an analysis on how to improve links between the airport and key centres in west Wales.
"In addition, we continue to lobby the UK government to devolve air passenger duty to Wales, which will allow us to shape our own future and develop our long haul route offer from Cardiff, providing opportunities to build on our international cargo/freight operations," the spokesman added.
The airport's chief executive Deb Barber said while passengers and commercial flights will always be the "lifeblood" of the airport, its master plan until 2040 looks at ways to develop and diversify the site.
She described the decision of flight handling operator Global Trek to establish a base in Cardiff as "a significant step" towards this.