Welsh Conservatives have called for more answers and increased transparency over the Welsh Government’s decision to nationalise Cardiff Airport.
The announcement – made during the Assembly’s Christmas recess period – continues to present a number of uncertainties.
Questions relating to future benefits for Welsh taxpayers, routes, and purchase costs are just some of those that continue to be avoided. While a number of potential purchase costs have been speculated upon, the First Minister has refused to release any further information.
The future of airport accessibility has also been highlighted by Welsh Conservatives. Links to Cardiff Airport remain extremely poor and bus services pale in comparison to those offered to Bristol Airport passengers. While buses run from Bristol city centre up to every 10 minutes and for 24 hours a day, services from Cardiff are available every two hours during the day and hourly from Rhoose rail interchange.
Similarly, just one train runs to Rhoose from Cardiff city centre every hour. This is in stark contrast to Birmingham Airport where there are seven trains an hour between the airport and city centre, and Manchester - where trains run between the airport and city centre every ten minutes.
An urgent question on the government’s announcement was rejected when the Assembly reconvened on December 19th and the issue was subsequently raised as a point of order by the Leader of the Opposition, Andrew RT Davies AM.
A Welsh Conservative debate on the nationalisation of Cardiff Airport will take place in the Assembly tomorrow (Wednesday January 9th).
The NHS is currently facing record-breaking cuts of almost half a billion pounds and Welsh Conservative calls for a Cancer Treatments Fund – which could be implemented at a cost of just five million pounds – have been rejected by the government.
Shadow Minister for Transport, Byron Davies AM, said:
“Christmas may be over but one present to every Welsh taxpayer – from every Welsh taxpayer - remains unwrapped, unexplained and uncosted.
“The nationalisation of Cardiff Airport was a surprise to everyone but the Welsh Government and that shroud of secrecy continues to define the issue. While finances must be studied, the airport buyers – essentially everyone in Wales – deserve answers.
“In the current financial climate and at a time when the NHS is facing record-breaking budget cuts, the casual acquisition of an airport appears wasteful at best.
“The tens of millions of pounds being spent on this acquisition could be spent on other projects - such as the A55 or the Newtown Bypass - and a guarantee on value for public money is sorely needed.
“The First Minister must also commit to making the airport’s accounts fully available as soon as possible.
“Be it health, education or the economy, Labour ministers stumble comically from one disaster to another. There is no current reason to believe their ownership of Cardiff Airport will be anything but another financial calamity.”