The Swiss airline Helvetic recently announced that it was ceasing all of its operations at Cardiff Airport. The airline’s decision is a blow to the Welsh government, which spent half a million pounds promoting Wales as a tourist destination in Switzerland a couple of years ago.
Helvetic flights first started heading to and from Cardiff Airport in 2011, but it soon became apparent that demand was low. As a result, the airline began to stop off at Bristol Airport on the way to Switzerland, and after a while it cut Cardiff out of its winter schedule completely. The latest move will see it stop running flights from Cardiff during the summer schedule as well.
The decision presents a real challenge for the Welsh government, which is currently planning to buy Cardiff Airport from its Spanish owners, the Abertis Group. Helvetic’s cancellation of its operations at Cardiff is the latest disappointment that the airport has experienced over the last few years, falling a dramatic fall in passenger numbers. In 2007, passenger numbers at Cardiff peaked at two million, but now they have fallen to half that amount.
However, the one positive is that Helvetic is still discussing whether to restart its flights in 2014, so it could possibly continue to operate from Cardiff in the future.
If the government does buy the airport, there are talks of creating a new airport on the Severn Estuary that would replace both Cardiff and Bristol airports. The new airport, which could be as big as Gatwick and have two runways, would take a decade to complete and could see as many as 11 million passengers passing through it each year.