South East Wales

Cardiff Airport and Welsh Government to take over St Athan airfield

Airfield entrance -in St Athan Image copyright Geograph/Mick Lobb
Image caption The airfield will cease to be a military ownership from 2019

A military airfield is set to be taken over by the Welsh Government and Cardiff Airport.

Currently St Athan airfield, in the Vale of Glamorgan, is regulated by the Military Aviation Authority and operated by Welsh Government, Ministry of Defence (MOD) and contractors.

The 10-year take over will start at the end of March 2019.

It is hoped the venture, which includes the running of a business park, will create 2,000 jobs.

Transport Secretary Ken Skates said they had set up the joint venture because the Welsh Government does not have the internal expertise to operate an airport directly.

"Under the current arrangements we have an obligation to the MOD to operate, manage and maintain the airfield for military purposes," he said.

"Our plan now is to transfer responsibility for airfield operations including management and maintenance, security, radar services and air traffic control to a single source supplier."

He said Cardiff Airport has been identified as the "only supplier capable of providing all services required", due in part to how close it is to St Athan, a former RAF base.

The Welsh Government plans to transfer the airfield into the remit of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

But it has ruled out the airfield handling any passenger services although it is looking at the potential of freight.

Mr Skates said the ambition is for the site to generate 2,000 jobs, including the 750 already committed by Aston Martin.

Welsh Government-owned Cardiff Airport has also announced its "master plan" to develop the airport and its transport connections over the next 20 years, with the aim of "developing the importance of the {airport} and the St Athan Enterprise Zone as a centre of aeronautical excellence".

It said it wants to "be a sustainable airport business generating significant economic benefit for Wales".

The plan includes a potential rail spur off the Cardiff to Bridgend coastal line, which has previously met some local opposition.

Deb Barber, chief executive of Cardiff Airport, added: "We welcome the opportunity to take over the operation, management and maintenance of the St Athan airfield and business park."

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