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Air travel expert cautious about proposal.

AIR travel expert Martin Evans was cautious about yesterday's announcement.

Mr Evans, a research fellow at the University of Glamorgan who recently contributed to a paper calling for Cardiff Airport to be a "sixth terminal" for Heathrow, said it would be prudent to take time over the matter.

He said: "These are very early days. We really need to wait for the due diligence and value for money reports before making a judgement. The Welsh Government clearly has an interest in ensuring that Wales is well connected, both from a business and a tourism point of view.

"Obviously a commercial operator will have the commercial knowledge you need to run an airport in the way the Government itself wouldn't. But a commercial operator's concerns tend to be short term rather than the longer strategic objectives of a government. "If we go back 20 years or more, most of the airports in the UK were owned by local authorities before being privatised, as Cardiff was.

"Manchester Airport is an example of one that has remained in the public sector, being owned by the local council but run very successfully by an arm's length company."

Asked to what extent he considered Cardiff Airport to have been at risk of closure, Mr Evans said: "The problem with airports is that they have very high fixed costs that cannot be cut, like air traffic control, firefighters and airport management.

When you lose airlines, as Cardiff has, you have to keep paying the fixed costs.

"The published accounts of Cardiff Airport show it has moved into loss, although the losses are not of a level to cause concern for its future. Nevertheless, it is understandable that the Welsh Government is interested in securing the airport's future.

"I want to see a successful airport and it's important that it has an owner with a long-term strategy for the future."


Martin Evans
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 19, 2012
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