Concerns over £10m airport loan

THE £10million loan from the Welsh Government to Cardiff Airport has been met with criticism by Vale AM Andrew RT Davies.

The airport has unveiled plans for a series of improvements following the loan, but Mr Davies has said that the money would be better spent on vital local services.

Mr Davies, who has backed a campaign in Barry to save under-threat bus routes, said that he finds it disconcerting that there seems to be an endless supply of funding for the airport when local services are being cut.

Protestors attempting to save the 98 bus route in Barry have often criticised the T8 service to the airport as being a waste of money, with frequently empty buses running to and from the Rhoose airport station.

Mr Davies said: “This loan raises serious questions for Carwyn Jones and Welsh Labour.

“While frontline services suffer, another £10million has somehow been found by Labour ministers already imposing record-breaking NHS budget cuts. You couldn't make it up.

"What concerns me most as a local Vale resident is the fact that the Labour Welsh Government can rustle up £10million to pay for this, whilst vital local services are being slashed.

“It seems that they have a bottomless pit where the airport is concerned, whilst the NHS and rural bus services are being cut back altogether.”

The loan follows news that airline company Flybe has withdrawn several of its routes from Cardiff Airport, including flights to Glasgow and Paris.

“Just last week FlyBe pulled routes from the airport," Mr Davies said. "We all want to see the airport succeed and part of that process will involve improving the experience for passengers using the site.

"However, you can make the terminal as pretty as you like but if you're losing airlines and routes you're not going to attract more passengers."

The improvements, planned for completion by next summer include a new and expanded security area, a new taxi booking and reception facility in arrivals, changes to drop-off and pick-up areas, and refurbishment and redecoration.

Jon Horne, Cardiff Airport’s chief executive, said: “We’ve listened to what the people of Wales want from their airport and we’ve been working to deliver this and drive standards up.

“One aspect our customers have asked us to improve is the process for dropping off and picking people up from the airport. From spring 2014 with the use of new technology, it will be a lot easier and free of charge.”

From the end March 2014, Scottish aviation company Loganair will take over Flybe's Cardiff to Edinburgh route commencing a triple weekday flight and a twice daily rotation each Sunday.

Phil Preston, chief operating officer at Loganair, said: “We are delighted to take on the Edinburgh route, and by dedicating an aircraft to this operation, provide the required frequency on the route to support the local business community."

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