Welsh Government releases money to prop up Cardiff Airport

Cardiff Airport
Cardiff Airport

The Welsh Government has agreed to re-purpose a tax-payers loan in order to help struggling Cardiff Airport stay in business during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.

Cardiff Airport (CWL/EGFF) is effectively closed with all the airlines that use it suspending flights but the airport is remaining open for emergencies and required cargo flights with a skeleton staff.

Directly employed staff who aren’t required to maintain the safe operation of the airport have been furloughed under the UK Governments Job Retention Scheme but the airport has said it will top up the extra 20% to ensure staff get full pay.

The airport said it did not plan to make any redundancies at this time.

Qatar Airways Boeing 787-8 preparing for take-off at Cardiff Airport (Image: The Aviation Media Agency.)
Qatar Airways Boeing 787-8 preparing for take-off at Cardiff Airport (Image: The Aviation Media Agency.)

Economy secretary Ken Skates has also called on the support from the UK Government to also step in and help the airport, which is owned by the Welsh Government.

Mr Skates said: “Cardiff Airport is an important part of our economy and our transport network, and this proactive step will help to protect the airport. We will release the minimum amounts of the existing loan arrangement necessary to keep the airport operating, and will ensure it can continue to support the wider response to the outbreak. This includes being available for key medical flights and serving the needs of the military and emergency services.

“However, our support from the Welsh government is a short-term solution for the airport and this is not a sustainable position. The UK government has the key lead in supporting the aviation industry and must change its policy towards further financial help for regional airports.”

The airport has continually made a loss under Welsh Government ownership and has been badly hit recently by the collapse of Thomas Cook and Flybe.

Passenger numbers had climbed to almost 1.6m but were expected to drop even before the Coronavirus pandemic hit.

Cardiff Airport Chief Executive Officer Deborah Bowen-Rees said “By now drawing down the next part of our commercial loan from the Welsh Government, that was agreed in September last year, we will be in a stronger position to weather the storm presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“As the national airport, we are taking the most responsible steps to ensure the long-term strength of the business and our ability to serve Wales.”

British Airways has been using Cardiff Airport to store a number of of its long-haul aircraft including Boeing 747’s, 777’s and 787’s and these will remain at Cardiff Airport until the fleet returns to the skies.

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Nick is the senior reporter and editor at UK Aviation News as well as working freelance elsewhere. He has his finger firmly on the pulse on Aviation, not only in the UK but worldwide. Nick has been asked to speak in a professional capacity on LBC, Heart and other broadcast networks.