Cardiff Airport 'needs true low cost airline' to compete

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Cardiff AirportImage source, Cardiff Airport
Image caption,
Cardiff Airport was bought by the Welsh Government in 2013

Cardiff Airport needs to attract a "true low cost airline" to compete with its nearest rival, Bristol Airport, a Welsh aviation entrepreneur has said.

Mike Powell, executive chairman of two budget airlines, warned passengers will continue to choose Bristol because of its "great choice of low cost flights".

But, Mr Powell told the Global Welsh group, in a Zoom call, that Cardiff Airport had better infrastructure.

Its owner, the Welsh Government said it was "exploring all options".

"The Welsh Government, if they are going to do anything, should really focus on the volume end of the market and try to win back market share that has been lost to Bristol," Cardiff-born Mr Powell said.

"It's about making sure that [Cardiff] is accessible and there's a range of low cost flights there.

"There's no true low cost airline based in Cardiff and so people simply keep driving along the M4… and get to Bristol where they've got a great choice of low cost flights."

Image source, Mike Powell
Image caption,
Mike Powell says Cardiff's lack of competitiveness with Bristol is down to its relative lack of low cost flights

He added: "Low prices will get people to switch their flights… to me it's all about the availability of cheap flights out of Cardiff."

The Welsh aviation industry has been badly hit, with major job losses announced at Airbus in Broughton, Flintshire, at British Airways' three south Wales sites and at GE in Nantgarw.

Despite the "very deep crisis", former London Welsh rugby player Mr Powell argued it was "the perfect time to start a new airline" due to a good supply of aircraft, pilots, management and infrastructure.

Mr Powell is a former chief financial officer at so-called ultra-low cost carrier Wizz Air, and is now executive chairman of both Flybondi - Argentina's first low cost airline - and Flycana, based in the Dominican Republic.

A Welsh Government spokesman said its acquisition of the airport "led to significantly increased passenger numbers and economic benefits for the region".

"We are exploring all options for the airport, as well as continuing our calls for more support for regional airports from the UK government," he added.

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