The airline Flybe has announced it is withdrawing its Paris and Glasgow routes from Cardiff Airport from January.
It follows several months of bad press for the airport, which was bought by the Welsh Government earlier this year in a bid to reverse its fortunes.
Paul Simmons, Flybe's Chief Commercial Officer, said: "We have taken a long hard look at all the routes we fly from Cardiff to make sure they are what our customers really want and that they operate at the best possible times for everyone."
The airline said it will still operate its planned schedule to the two destinations to accommodate those travelling for the Six Nations’ matches in February.
It added passengers affected are being contacted and offered, where possible, an alternative Flybe flight or full refund.
A spokesman for George Best Belfast City airport said the emergency response was triggered as a "precautionary measure".
Flybe confirmed the incident, saying all passengers would be resuming their journey on a replacement aircraft.
Flybe can confirm that flight BE281 en route to Cardiff this morning returned to George Best Belfast City Airport shortly after take off due to a technical fault. As a precaution and in line with standard procedures the emergency services were alerted. The aircraft landed normally and the 64 passengers and 4 crew disembarked safely and without incident. They will be resuming their journey shortly on a replacement aircraft.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats say the news that Flybe is ‘reviewing operations’ at Cardiff Airport is the first test for Carwyn Jones following his decision to buy the airport. They say the First Minister must convince the airline there's a sound and sustainable future for its routes from Cardiff.
Flybe operate some of Cardiff’s key business routes to places like Paris, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which are strategically important to the economy in South Wales. If Flybe go the same way as Ryanair and BMI Baby in dropping out of Cardiff it will be another major setback for our airport. My thoughts are with Flybe’s excellent and dedicated staff at this uncertain time.
– Liberal Democrat Business Spokesperson Eluned Parrott AM
300 jobs across the UK are at risk from Flybe's review of regional bases. It's one of the few airlines to offer scheduled services from Cardiff, where passenger numbers have fallen. Both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives have questioned the Welsh Government's plan to buy the airport.
This announcement really piles the pressure on Labour Ministers to spell out their plans to revitalise Cardiff Airport and dramatically turn around its fortunes. Over the coming months Flybe will undoubtedly be examining the merits of each of its regional bases, so Welsh Labour Ministers need to urgently remove the question marks hanging over the airport’s future ownership and management.
Cardiff Airport has the potential to be a major regional hub in the UK, but neglect and a lack of political leadership from the Welsh Government have seen freight and passenger numbers decline. We urgently need a bold and ambitious vision and a clear statement of intent from the First Minister if we are to restore confidence in Wales’ international airport.”