Cardiff Airport needs private investment, not the dead hand of Senedd

Wales’ First Minister, Carwyn Jones, has announced plans for the Welsh government to purchase Cardiff International Airport from current operators, TBI.

What Mr Jones has effectively done here is hark back to the 1970s socialist heydey of nationalised public works. Although, Mr Jones, claims that the airport ‘will not receive subsidies’ and will seek a ‘return to the Welsh taxpayer’, he has missed the point: Private investment will be, and always has been, more financially viable to all parties involved, the already-saturated taxpayer being the most important focus here.

The mooted plan is to have an independent operator run the airport on a commercial basis upon the government’s behalf. There is one mistake in this paragraph: ‘government’,  ‘commercial’ and ‘plan’ all co-exist together in the sentencing.

Cardiff Airport does, no doubt, need a major overhaul to quell the decline of recent years. Passenger numbers have fallen one third from 558,000 to 440,000 since the beginning of this year; combine that with an operating loss of £319,000 in 2011 and the picture paints itself lurid shades of greying gloom.

The solution is to such a conundrum is where the Left and Right traditionally dissect along almost biological differences.

The distracting crescendo this matter has attracted over the past twelve months has, to be fair, broken the usual characteristically-adherent state of lethargy and inertia that subdues the Welsh Assembly for the rest of the 364 days that compose a year. Action has been taken: it’s just the wrong kind.

I join Alun Cairns MP, Welsh Conservatives, in treating Carwyn Jones’ decision with unfiltered scepticism. The question we both have for the First Minister, asked by Mr Cairns on BBC Radio Cymru earlier, is the same as my own: Why do you think the Welsh government, for all its hallmark erudition, would be able to turn around the misfortune of Cardiff Airport better, and in a more economically-sound manner, than a private investor seeking to make a profit? The cymhelliad elw needn’t be treated like a dirty concept; profit can speak all languages. It is quite clear that private investment, with the profit motive driving all decisions, would be far superior in the operation of a business, than a public sector model that often proves a costly and inefficient failure time and time again. 

Cardiff has enjoyed both a cultural and intellectual rebirth this past decade; its success as a capital city has been an undeniable success for all involved. For this period of growth to unduly continue we will need to develop better transport links and infrastructure to match the best; getting the dead hand of big government to preside over this necessity is not the way to go.


  1. We see this Scotland with the SNP not infrequently; a political desire to have industry, the economy, and our public services as “Scottish” or “Welsh”

    Living in a city that spent £400m on a drab parliament and £800m on 8 miles of tram I don’t think your article cynical in any sense of the word.

    I have two words of advice for those wanting to nationalise a failing airport: “No” and “Don’t”


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