A former senior executive of Cardiff Airport has told ITV Wales that it could take the Welsh Government several years to make it a viable, profitable transport hub. Peter Philips did, however, say that government involvement in the project was probably the only way to save the airport's ailing fortunes. This comes on the same day that the government was asked to prove that taking over the airport would be beneficial for Welsh taxpayers.
The Welsh Conservatives called a debate in plenary this afternoon, calling on the Welsh Government 'to provide evidence that the purchase... will be value for money and beneficial for Welsh taxpayers.'
Shadow Transport Minister Byron Davies said that buying the airport is 'hardly a sensible option' when vital investment is needed elsewhere. Liberal Democrat transport spokeswoman Eluned Parrott claimed that the First Minister was now 'over a barrel in terms of the price, having promised to buy it before he agreed on the price.'
Business Minister Edwina Hart defended the Welsh Government's bid, saying 'there are many successful examples of publicly-owned airports'. She said it wasn't their intention to directly operate the airport, but to get a 'qualified specialist operator' to do so on their behalf.
Former Cardiff Airport executive Peter Phillips says that - as long as the Welsh Government is tough in its negotiations, there could be long-term benefits. He predicts it could make a profit in five years by buying the airport.
The process of due diligence could take months and now needs to be completed before a buyout can be confirmed.
The Welsh Government announced last month it was looking to buy Cardiff Airport. First Minister Carwyn Jones said the airport would be run 'on a commercial basis', and his priorities were modernising infrastructure, increasing the number of routes, and improving the passenger experience.There has been criticism of the plans though. Bristol Airport said it was concerned that 'intervention may distort the market for air travel in the South West of England and South Wales to the detriment of consumers on both sides of the border.'