Figures out this week showed that Cardiff Airport served just 123,000 passengers last year. When we asked people why they don’t use it most people mentioned the same thing, Bristol.
Sitting some 60 miles away Bristol Airport had 2.08m passengers in the same period.
The Welsh Government -owned airport also saw smaller passenger numbers than Exeter, Norwich and Bournemouth – and was less than half the size of Southampton, serving served just 0.2% of UK air travellers. The airport has fallen back since it was bought by the Welsh Government in 2013 for £52m. In 2010, Cardiff was the 20th biggest airport in the UK by passenger volume. Ministers bailed it out with £85m in a grant and debt write off during the pandemic in March 2021.
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The airport’s CEO Spencer Birns has said the airport is anticipating the busiest summer for three years, and hopes to be 50% recovered – around 800,000 passengers – by the end of the year. But WalesOnline readers have had their say on the running of the airport.
Linda Clarke asked: “When other airports opened and there were flights during the pandemic, Cardiff remained closed. So passengers flew from Bristol and saw the bigger choice and cheaper prices. Another bad decision by the Welsh Government.”
But Scott Griffin said: “I am not sure Cardiff Airport’s viability was high on the list of considerations when protecting the NHS from being overwhelmed by Covid cases, to be frank. As for passengers [who] flew from Bristol, I doubt many who flew from there hadn’t before. Going back the last 20 years I’d used Bristol three times as much as Cardiff.”
Anne James described the airport as “atrocious” saying that there are few flights and they are “way over priced”. But Claire Trouw who uses the airport at least four times a year on flights from Amsterdam says: “It’s so convenient with the kids and the staff are always friendly. I’d rather pay a little extra and avoid the queues at Bristol, the trek from there to the motorway and the slog back to Wales, especially with the rising cost of fuel. The airport does need investment though in affordable flight diversity in order for more people to use it.”
Tom Hillard says that the airport should be handed to a private company, “not a government that takes all the money and only gives out staff wages.” Carol Cox said that the reason so few people used the airport was because of the “cost and the availability”. She said: “People are using their common sense. Why would you pay £200+ extra for a couple to fly here when Bristol is not too far away? I always look to fly from Cardiff every time, but I won’t pay ridiculous amounts when it’s cheaper from Bristol.”
Anthony Vowkes says he has flown about 30 times on holiday, but only flown from Cardiff once. The reason why? “lt is always way more expensive than Bristol, or even cheaper to drive and go from Gatwick usually,” he says.
In April, the launch of Cardiff Airport’s first low-cost airline base for two decades was announced, with Wizz Air UK revealing nine new routes, but some readers believe that more are needed. Read everything about the new routes here.
Laura Rees said: “The airport had been improving before the pandemic – however, airlines collapsing had hit it hard – and then came the pandemic. It needs more routes – and better times – to get more people there. I prefer leaving from Cardiff airport as it’s closer to me… but the times to leave for holidays aren’t always suitable.”
Howard Jones says: “Would love to use Cardiff more but very few routes and more expensive. C’mon get it sorted please – we want to love you.” Marc Howells has flown on one of the new routes and said: “I flew with Wizz Air to Palma a couple of weeks ago. Good airline to fly with and hopefully they’ll open up more routes during the coming years.”
And people really want to use the airport. Mandy Evans said: “Flew from Cardiff Airport this week so much better organised than any other airport we’ve flown from over the last two years. Quick through check in and security and the staff are a lot more pleasant, friendly and approachable than any of them. Flights on time, suitcases off by time we came back through on landing. And the best bit is that its 30 minutes from home, so we would prefer to use Cardiff more and hopefully now will as have some better flight times.”
Ashley Giles said: “I like Cardiff Airport easy to check your luggage and quick to get through customs.” Christine Luympany said: “The destinations offered from Cardiff Airport are very limited, and flights are expensive – what do they expect? I live in Wales, but any time I want to go on holiday I have to fly from London, Manchester or Bristol. Obviously if the flights I wanted were available from Cardiff, at a sensible price, then I would use the airport.”
Darran Fox called for people to “support your local airport”. He said: “Flew from Cardiff last weekend. Was very quick and smooth through security. Friendly passport control officers on return. Flights on time. If nobody had noticed flights weren’t leaving during the pandemic. So most airports had less footfall. Wizz Air now offer new routes from Cardiff. Airport was busy over weekend but very well organised.”