The air route between Cardiff and Anglesey is to continue, with the Welsh Government planning to advertise a new long-term contract later this year. The present service, operated by Eastern Airways, is thought to cost about £1.2 million a year in subsidy.
Economy Secretary Ken Skates says he's also asked his officials to look at a possible network of state-aided flights, transforming services between Cardiff and other UK cities. These routes would be exempt from air passenger duty, with a guarantee that rival airlines wouldn't be allowed to compete with them for four years. There would be no further subsidy, apart from a "modest" marketing budget.
The minister says he's been encouraged by how Eastern has increased passenger numbers by 40%, thanks to a better ticket sales operation. Eastern has merged its tickets sales with FlyBe and also offers connections with other airlines.
My officials will be looking to secure a reliable, experienced, established operator who shares our ambition to grow and develop the [Cardiff-Anglesey] route. In turn, this will support our ambition to progress to a larger aircraft, eventually looking to offer new air services from north Wales. Developing new air links will open up options for better connecting Wales’ economy with other transport and economic centres across the UK, so helping investment and business.
Despite the hope that eventually there will be more services from Anglesey as well, all the new routes being considered are to and from Cardiff, linking the city with the following destinations:
There have previously been short-lived commercial attempts to run flights to London, Manchester and Newquay. Help will also be offered to double the frequency of the existing once-a-day flights between Cardiff and Glasgow. Ken Skates also wants to see if there could be a direct link to Aberdeen. At present, planes between Cardiff and Aberdeen land en route at Newcastle, currently the only English city with a direct air link with Cardiff.