Cardiff-Anglesey air link to continue, say ministers
The subsidised air service between Cardiff and Anglesey is to continue long-term following a review, First Minister Carwyn Jones has said.
Launched in 2007, it carried 9,862 passengers in 2016-17, filling half the available seats, and receives around £1.2m annually in public funding.
The service had experienced problems with previous operators but was "vital to our economy", Mr Jones said.
But the Tories said the link should be scrapped as it was "wasting millions".
In March, Eastern Airways took over its running after Citywing was liquidated.
This was because Citywing's Czech operator Van Air had had its permission to fly suspended by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
In 2015, the CAA revoked the air operator's licence of Links Air for safety reasons leading the firm going out of business.
Opposition politicians have regularly called for the service - running twice a day on weekdays - to end with others arguing it needs better transport links and marketing.
Mr Jones said: "Following a thorough review in 2016, I'm pleased to announce the Intra Wales Air Service between Cardiff and Anglesey will continue.
"The review found that, while the service has faced difficulties in the past - not least in terms of former operators - it provides a quick and convenient way to travel between north and south Wales, which is vital for our economy."
Ministers were considering "how the scope of the route can be expanded over the next four years and beyond, to help boost the Welsh economy", after the review suggested the service should be given help to grow.
BBC Wales understands possible options might include adding a third airport to the service, additional investment in facilities at Cardiff and Anglesey, and more marketing.
Work to find a long-term operator, to take over from Eastern Airways, would begin in the next few months, the first minister said.
However Conservative Clwyd West AM Darren Millar said passenger numbers had been "falling dramatically" and said it was time to end the service in favour of other projects to help north Wales.
"Instead of wasting millions more on an air link for civil servants and politicians we'd be better off investing this money on addressing problems on the A55 and improving train services to the region," he said.