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?]