Welsh Government to buy Cardiff Airport: What could NI Executive buy or sell?

There’s money in those Welsh valleys. The Welsh government have reached an agreement to buy Cardiff Airport from its owners TBI. The BBC report:

The airport would be run on a commercial basis by an independent operator on behalf of the government. It will not receive subsidies and should “demonstrate a return to the taxpayer,” [First Minister Carwyn Jones] said.

Plaid Cymru welcomed the announcement and said the airport needed to be a “shopfront” for Wales, but Liberal Democrats are worried it will become a “money pit” for public funds.

The First Minister said:

Over the past 12 months, I have repeatedly emphasised the importance to Wales of a dynamic international gateway airport in Cardiff … Such an arrangement would enable us to develop a more coherent approach to our national infrastructure planning, and integrate the airport into our wider economic development strategy.

Public ownership of Cardiff Airport is not a new concept. The BBC again:

The airfield at Rhoose in the Vale of Glamorgan was built in 1941 and control was transferred from the Ministry of Defence to the former Glamorgan county council in 1965, and then to its three successor councils of West, Mid and South Glamorgan in the 1970s.

The airport was privatised in 1995, with TBI now owned mainly by the Spanish company Abertis with a minority stake held by the Spanish airports operator AENA.

I doubt that the NI Executive’s piggy-bank could ever support buying out one or both Belfast airports. It would be a non-starter given that I reckon both Belfast airports have a larger number of passengers flowing through them than Cardiff. And the Belfast City – Belfast International – Dublin airport triangle (leaving aside City of Derry) isn’t quite as as competitive as Cardiff versus Bristol and Birmingham.

But still, it feels like a bold move for Wales to take in order to deliver a “coherent approach to our national infrastructure planning, and integrate the airport into our wider economic development strategy”.

What bold move could the NI Executive take around national infrastructure or better integration of the economy? Buy something? Sell something? [Ed – create the long overdue single Economy Department?]

  • sherdy

    We could sell our expertise in street protests, parading, rioting . . . need I go on?

  • David Crookes

    Lay down a resource for the next two or three generations by creating an enormous ‘Ulster Forest’ of hardwood and softwood trees which will straddle the Irish border.

    Use only voluntary unpaid labour at weekends.

    Explore the possibility of leasing rather than purchasing the necessary land from its various owners.

    See if the EU will provide funds to cover the costs of leasing and fencing.

    Encourage firms like Tesco to pay for the young trees.

    Encourage labourers to travel four or five to a car.

    Send out leaflets advertising the project to schools, churches, and businesses.

    Encourage local newpapers to promote the project.

    Plan the forest carefully so that it will attract walkers and picnickers of all ages.

    Make strenuous efforts to recruit inner-city people of all ages as labourers.

    Carefully write down the clever comments of people who pronounce the project to be mad, stupid, uneconomic, and doomed to failure.

    When the project succeeds, HUMILIATE THESE ENEMIES OF THE HUMAN RACE by publishing their names and comments.

    Make sure that the names of all those who have worked on the project are displayed on the internal walls of any heritage-centre-plus-restaurant which is built on or near the site of the forest.

    The restaurant should be aimed at self-catering picnickers. It should offer free toilets, and a free supply of boiling water for tea and coffee.

    Encourage people in Scotland, England, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and Britanny to create their own ‘Ulster Forest’ in the same manner and at the same time.

    Encourage people in every part of Ireland to create mini-forests of hardwood and softwood trees in their own areas.

    Don’t have ANY big conferences about the project in expensive hotels.

    Don’t have ANY expensive junkets in connection with the project for visiting dignitaries.

    Make sure that the labourers include local politicians.

    Once the forest matures, set up a craft village beside it to accommodate painters, potters, carvers, sculptors, makers of musical instruments, and practitioners of other crafts.

    Build some kind of outdoor resource centre near the forest.

    If possible, incorporate in the project a number of streams and small lakes or ponds.

    Debate the question of animal life: do we introduce particular fauna, or do we let everything happen naturally?

  • Dewi

    Terrible transport to get there but super fish and chips at £9.99…….and in the summer there’s flights to Barcelona…

  • David – you’ve been thinking about this .. Minister for Innovative Forests for you! What’s the bet that DETI and DARD ministers will have a briefing on your idea by the end of the week?!

  • David Crookes

    Bless you, Alan in Belfast, you rmake me recall one of Goering’s titles — Minister of Hunting!

    I meant to include the Channel Islands in the project.

    A big forest project would be good for all of us in a multitude of ways. Thanks for being so positive about it.

  • OneNI

    Have you been to Cardiff airport? Truth is it is sinking fast with Bristol stealing its business. Only a Labour administration would be stupid enough to buy it

  • Haifish

    We could sell rights to the flag pole over City Hall; highest bidder flies flag of their choice.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    The more I think of it the better that idea becomes.

    Perhaps you could suggest it to the Unionist Forum.

  • David Crookes

    Buy, requisition, annex, conquer, or in some manner take over the sewers.

    Set a date (2032?) after which no sewer may discharge into the sea.

    Set a date after which anything that goes into the sewers, including detergents, must be biodegradable.

    Employ some modern variant of the Indore Process to turn human urine and faeces into natural manure.

    Or, blend the human urine and faeces with the garden waste which people put in their brown bins, and use the Quick Return Process of Maye E Bruce to turn the whole lot into compost.

    Harvest as much seaweed as possible, spread it out on the shore, let the rain wash all the salt out of it, and then compost it.

    Harvest as many green gorse-spikes as possible, crush them in mortars, and use the paste as winter feed for cattle.

    Harvest as many mature gorse-trunks as possible, air-season or microwave-season them, slice them into quarter-inch-thick planks, and make them into wall panels.

    Cultivate as many fields of willow as possible, and use the timber for fuel.

    Encourage senior school pupils to work at tree-planting, canal-clearing, graffiti-erasing, and so on for at least two weeks every summer. Induce institutes of higher education to make participation in such activities a condition of admission.

    Buy unused farmland and build little hamlets of old Irish-or-British-or-Scandinavian turf houses for holidaymakers, and for any local persons who want to rent or buy them. The turf walls and roofs could be built as covers for one-block-thick no-cavity walls with DPC and sealed plastic or bitumenous roofs. Try to have as much of the building work as possible done by supervised amateurs and apprentices, paying a wage only to the supervising workmen.

    Buy Belfast International Airport and name it after C S Lewis before some minister who has never read a book in his life agrees to name it after a motorcyclist. Then sell it back to its original owner.

  • Sorry – it’s already pencilled in as the Gloria Hunniford Belfast International Airport (even though she lived just outside Hillsborough)

    I expect to see all these policy ideas in the Green Party NI Euro election manifesto!

  • Dewi

    Mr Crookes you need help…

  • David Crookes

    Thanks, Dewi, indeed I do. Maybe I should act normal, poison the air with an oversized diesel-powered vehicle, poison the Irish Sea with noxious chemicals, feed chickens with the entrails of their cousins, encourage overweight children to waste their lives indoors, and go to Disneyworld for my holidays.

    Thanks again for being positive, Alan. Actually I heard it was going to be a toss-up between Gloria Hunniford and May McFetridge.

    Centuries ago we had open sewers in the streets, and most people seemed to think it was OK. It takes time for people to learn.

  • galloglaigh

    They could buy off loyalist East Belfast since they’ve lost their blankie 🙂

  • David Crookes

    Buy back, redeem, or repatriate our national reserves of common sense.

    Spend one day in a local care home. Watch nurses and care assistants filling in forms for two or three hours. Admit that this phenomenon exemplifies a mad and wicked world. Don’t be a slavish moron. Slavish morons are people who accept everything.

    Resolve that in the new Ireland people will be able to do their jobs without having to waste their time and energy in useless paperwork.

    If the mad wicked world of useless paperwork has been created by human rights legislation, repeal that legislation.

    If the mad wicked world of useless paperwork has been forced upon us by the EU, leave the EU. Better still: get a competent Irish linguist to go round the EU and preach the gospel of liberation from madness. People on the continent hate the modern hell of paperwork as much as we do.

    Resolve that in the new Ireland as many working people as possible will not have to take any species of work home.

    Legislate for the election of law officers who will have the power to stop litigation which they adjudge to be frivolous, settle disputes in the workplace, and settle minor disputes between neighbours.

    Ordain that the state will not award enormous sums of money to litigious victimologists.

    Close down every site of the rate-your-doctor species so that anonymous sewer-rats will be unable to commit slander with impunity.

    To the limit of possibility, cut off improper internet material at the general point of entry, instead of letting everyone have access to everything so that the police can spy on people.

    Ask computer designers why they have never designed a reliable unerasable electronic recording system, ask them if they are content that all records have to be printed out on paper and stored in physical rooms, tell them that we are not content, and suggest that they do something about it.

    Make it illegal for minors either to own camera-phones, or to bring any kind of phone into school. That proposal brings us to the educational world, which needs a manifesto of its own. Let me conclude for now with two common-sense proposals relating to the transport department, which also needs a manfesto of its own.

    Anyone who is caught using a phone while driving should be fined £5000 and banned from driving for a year.

    It is wonderfully convenient for car manufacturers to put a sgnal indicator right beside a headlight, but it is not wonderfully convenient for drivers who are at pains to discern the intentions of other drivers. Have a bit of wit and put a bit of metal between the big bright headlight and the little orange indicator.

  • MichaelOgden

    I think my father would turn in his grave.
    This was a pioneering time in which he played a key role in the development of civil aviation in South Wales, seeing Cambrian Airways develop from an airline operating Dragon Rapides, to DC-3s, then the Heron and thence to the Vickers Viscount. He assisted local travel agents to develop the “package” holiday with Hourmont.

    In 1965, Micky wrote the following report:

    ” Rhoose Airport was constructed in 1941 by the RAF as a satellite to RAF Llandow and was primarily used for the training of Spitfire pilots. It never assumed a glamorous role in the the famous fighter squadrons that defended this country as it did not operate but played a significant part in WW2, even though it finished its active life with the RAF as a bomb dump. The only civil airport in South Wales prior to WW2 was the Cardiff Airport at Pengam Moors which was owned by Cardiff City Council. At the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, civil aviation came to an abrupt halt and most of the civil airports in the country, including Cardiff airport, were taken over by the Air Ministry.

    After the war, Cardiff Airport was acquired by the new Ministry of Civil Aviation and made available for civil flying and Cambrian Airways were one of the first civil operators to re-form and start operations from Pengam Moors.
    In 1951, it became clear that Pengam Moors was not large enough. Detailed surveys had shown that it could only be extended at great cost and this would involve the diversion of a river, and even then there would be no guarantee that obstruction free flightways could be provided. It was therefore decided to examine the possibility of developing an alternative site.

    Various RAF airfields in South Wales were examined such as Llandow and St Athan before Rhoose was considered to offer the best prospect for development. A significant part was played during these negotiations by the Welsh Advisory Council for Civil Aviation and the Cardiff Airport Consultative Committee. The Chairman of both these bodies was Mr S. Kenneth Davies and it was his influence and perseverance with the then Minister of Civil Aviation that provided the urge to develop a new site in South Wales and the decision to take over the RAF airfield at Rhoose. The aerodrome was situated on the Barry/Llantwit Major road, approximately 12 miles from the centre of Cardiff and served by a good road which offered a quick run between the City Centre and the airport.

    The need for an alternative airport to Pengam Moors became urgent in 1952 when Aer Lingus wished to start a scheduled service between Dublin, Cardiff and Bristol with Dakota type aircraft which could not operate from Pengam Moors.

    The bare facilities were provided at Rhoose to enable this service to operate, but after two years of successful operations, it was decided to transfer all civil flying from Pengam Moors to Rhoose and this was carried out on the 1st April 1954.”