Wales politics

Heathrow to Wales flights 'could bid for funds'

A British Airways passenger plane prepares to land at Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport in London Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Could there be flights from Cardiff to Heathrow?

Airlines wanting to fly from Wales to Heathrow will be able to bid for a share of a proposed £10m route fund, the Welsh Government has said.

Ministers and Heathrow have signed a "strategic partnership" agreement to identify business opportunities from the planned third runway.

The Welsh Government claim it will create up to 8,400 new skilled jobs and boost the Welsh economy by £6.2bn.

But the Welsh Conservatives said the deal had no "tangible commitments".

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Media captionCardiff Airport chief executive Deb Barber said talks with Heathrow had been very constructive

A third Heathrow runway will be Europe's largest privately-funded infrastructure project and create significant growth opportunities.

Plaid Cymru criticised Welsh Labour support for the third runway project in 2016 without getting anything back in return, while the Scottish Government had reached a "memorandum of understanding" which included £200m in construction spending.

The UK government said in October 2016, after years of delay, that building a third runway at Heathrow, Europe's largest privately-funded infrastructure project, was its preferred option for expanding airport capacity in the UK.

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Under the partnership, Heathrow and the Welsh Government agreed to hold a summit on 5 July in Cardiff to help Welsh businesses seek contracts at the airport.

The Welsh Government also said that airlines wishing to operate a route from Wales to Heathrow would be eligible to bid for a proposed £10m Heathrow Route Development fund.

The fund, paid for by Heathrow, is due to be available for five UK domestic routes and is due to start from 2021.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said the partnership "opens the door to explore a wide range of new opportunities, particularly for our existing supply chain companies that have the experience and expertise to support infrastructure projects at Heathrow".

'No strong commitments'

But Andrew RT Davies, the Welsh Conservative leader, said the announcement "is a case of the Welsh Labour Government joining the party after last orders with no strong and tangible commitments like those secured by counterparts in Scotland".

Plaid Cymru's transport spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards, said: "Heathrow should be congratulated on having superior negotiating skills to the First Minister of Wales.

"The Scottish Government secured a commitment from Heathrow to reduce landing charges for all airlines operating services from Heathrow to Scotland, and a £200m commitment on construction related spend in Scotland. No such commitments for Wales."

Cardiff Airport is keen to explore opportunities with Heathrow after the new runway is operational, chief executive Deb Barber said.

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