First Minister Carwyn Jones AM has confirmed today that funding for the Cardiff to Anglesey route will continue following a review of the service.
The review also recommended that funding is given for expanding the route which is likely to include a 3rd destination to the service.
The route from Cardiff Airport (CWL/EGFF) to RAF Valley (VLY/EGVO) (Anglesey) is known as the Intra-Wales Air Service and gets a subsidy of around £1.2m per year and the twice daily flight operates from Cardiff Airport in the morning at 07:35 and evening at 16:10. During the day the aircraft is parked at Cardiff Airport.
During its tenure Links Air operated the route it attempted to utilise its aircraft flying Cardiff Airport to Norwich daily between the Intra-Wales flights although the route never proved popular with most analysts finding the choice of destination odd.
Current operator Eastern Airways (T3/EZE) already operates from Cardiff Airport to Newcastle (NCL/EGNT) & Aberdeen (ABZ/EGPD) and has recently signed formed an alliance with fellow Cardiff operator, Flybe (BE/BEE).
Industry sources have suggested a 3rd northern city such as Manchester could prove popular given the constraints on the leg times between the Intra-Wales obligations.
If an option within Wales was sought then candidates include Aberporth or Camarthen in West Wales although whether the demand would be there for the latter is debatable given the existing road & rail links.
Another option could be the Isle of Man to replace the service from Gloucester Airport that was lost when Citywing went bankrupt.
Eastern Airways is the 3rd operator of the route in 3 years following trouble with previous operators Links Air and Citywing, the latter going bankrupt as they airline operating its flights, Van Air Europe was suspended from flying in the UK for safety reasons. Eastern Airways stepped in to ensure continuity of the route.
Work will get underway in the next few months to secure a long-term operator for the route and to expand it. It is not currently known if Eastern Airways will be bidding to retain the route.
There has been strong opposition from other AM’s to the continuation of the route with many favouring scrapping the route in favour of road and rail improvements.