A leading Welsh Conservative has called for taxpayers to share in the proceeds following Cardiff Airport’s improved passenger figures.
Byron Davies AM, Shadow Minister for Transport, made the call after the troubled airport reported a rise in passenger numbers since the Welsh Government took over in March last year.
Airport bosses expect to see a total increase of nine per cent by the end of this month.
Mr Davies said that every taxpayer should get a return from their tax money and share in the improvements made at Cardiff Airport.
Ministers brought the airport into public ownership from Spanish firm Abertis for £52 million following concerns on investment and plummeting passenger numbers.
Since then, the airport has seen a rise in business while undergoing major refurbishment to the terminal area.
The Welsh Government has also given the airport a £10 million loan to pay for key renovation work to modernise the interior and upgrade the check-in department and passenger areas.
When asked about the rise in passenger numbers, Mr Davies said: “This is an encouraging rise – albeit from an extremely low base. Passenger numbers have dropped so significantly in recent years that this increase was desperately needed.
Taxpayers have paid £52 million for this airport and deserve to see things improving.”
Since the March 2013 takeover, Cardiff Airport has serviced 993,000 passengers year-on-year with expectations to pass the one million mark by the end of this month, representing a 10 per cent increase overall.
The Welsh Conservatives opposed the Welsh Labour Government’s decision to nationalise the airport, but are now putting forward proposals for taxpayers to see a return on their investment’s potential for growth.
Mr Davies said: “Cardiff Airport has tremendous potential as an international air hub and with an ambitious vision and effective leadership we believe it can continue to grow.”
Under plans outlined in the Welsh Conservative blueprint, the airport would receive continued support to develop further before potentially being sold off at a gain to the taxpayer.
Mr Davies said: “We believe that after a period of revitalisation, investment and growth, Cardiff Airport should be sold as a vibrant economic hub. Every taxpayer should get their £38.50 dividend back and share in the growth of the improving airport.”
The airport’s improved figures are largely being attributed to the inclusion of new airline carriers and additional routes being added to the airport’s service roster.
However, these improvements still have a way to go to match the passenger numbers of UK counterparts Belfast International Airport (£4.3 million) and Edinburgh Airport (£9.2 million).