The Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales
For many months now I have emphasised the importance to Wales of a dynamic international gateway airport in Cardiff. The business community has lost no opportunity to give me the same message. It is vital for our economic development that we have strong international connectivity to and from Wales as well as a welcoming open door for tourism.
During the course of this year the Welsh Government has developed a very constructive and positive relationship with TBI, the airport’s owners. Together we have been discussing how best to develop the airport to position it for the challenges ahead. In the course of those discussions it emerged that a sale of the airport was one possible option.
I can today inform Assembly Members that the Welsh Government has now agreed with TBI to progress towards the purchase of Cardiff Airport. This agreement enables comprehensive financial and legal due diligence work to take place on an exclusive basis between the Welsh Government and TBI. If, after this due diligence work has been completed, the Welsh Government is satisfied that this represents a sound investment then we may then proceed towards a purchase.
There are many examples of successful publicly owned airports across the United Kingdom; indeed, Cardiff Airport was itself owned by Welsh local authorities until the early 1990’s. I believe the time is right for the airport to come once again into public ownership. This arrangement would enable us to develop a more coherent approach to our national infrastructure and to integrate the airport into our wider economic development strategy.
At this stage I do not propose that the Welsh Government should directly operate the airport. My intention is that it would be operated on our behalf by a suitably qualified specialist operator. Although the Welsh Government would clearly exert a strong strategic interest the airport would be operated on a commercial basis.
Subject to satisfactory due diligence and value for money analysis, I believe that our investment in Cardiff Airport offers many exciting possibilities. I will, of course, keep Assembly Members informed on the progress of this work.