1. ITV Report

Cardiff Airport task group meets for first time

Talks will be held in an attempt to maximise the airport's economic impact Photo: ITV News Wales

A new task group will meet for the first time today to try and stop the decline of Cardiff Airport.

It's losing hundreds of thousands of passengers every year over the border. Businesses say it's a weak link in the Welsh economy, which is hampering investment and growth.

Holiday makers complain the airport offers so few destinations the lack of choice pushes travellers to Bristol, London or Birmingham.

The First Minister will bring together business leaders, politicians and representatives from the St Athan Enterprise Zone to devise a strategy to take the airport forward and maximise its economic impact.

Carwyn Jones AM has been critical of the airport's Spanish owners Abertis, calling on them to invest or sell up. The managing director Patrick Duffy left his post last month.

The campaign group Fly Cardiff has been lobbying politicians for action on the airport for 12 months and says the task group is long overdue.

It is campaigning to attract more airlines into Cardiff and more routes, but fears passengers numbers are now so low that this is a make-or-break point. Passenger numbers have almost halved since a peak of two million five years ago. Fly Cardiff wants to see a transatlantic route reintroduced.

Hoteliers in Cardiff say the failings of the airport are hitting tourism opportunities in the city.

The airport is a disaster. Something needs to be done and quickly. It's hitting trade. There are so few routes, Cardiff and the wider region are missing out.

– Derek Harvey, General Manager of the Marriott hotel

The main aims of the task group will be to increase leisure, business and freight traffic through the airport.

We welcome the First Minister's announcement about the Cardiff Airport Task Force. We agree that collaboration between the airport, the Welsh Government, the wider public sector, the business community and other stakeholders is essential to identify and achieve important and meaningful outcomes. We look forward to working closely with the First Minister and Task Force participants in this important initiative.”

– Steve Hodgetts, Cardiff Airport’s Planning and Commercial Director