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EDITIONS
Monday, 9 December, 2002, 13:29 GMT
Airports' expansion in vision
bmibaby will play a key role in Wales
Cardiff International Airport could become a major passenger thoroughfare if UK Government plans for air travel take off.

A consultation paper is looking at developing the airport to benefit the Welsh economy in future years.

But there are also potential spin-offs for a host of smaller airports round Wales, creating an "all-Wales" air network.

Cardiff airport
Cardiff airport could see up to 9m passengers a year

bmibaby - Wales' newest carrier - added an extra three destinations from Cardiff last week.

And, while the present figure of one million passengers per year is modest, there are plans to see the number rise to nine million passengers over the next 30 years.

Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester airports - all popular departure points for passengers from Wales - are also set to undergo a dramatic expansion in the coming years.

The development of the Cardiff airport will mean considerable investment in the current facilities, backed by DTI proposals to develop the site.

Frank Maloney, a spokesman for Cardiff Chamber of Trade, said developing Cardiff airport would have a positive economic impact on the region.


There is a huge market for Swansea airport

Sara Hopkins, Air Wales
"The way forward is to create one airport and focus on one. CIA would facilitate the area above the M4 and west Wales as well as east Wales."

Wales in the future could also feature thriving regional airports at Anglesey in the north and Swansea, Cardigan and Aberporth in south west Wales.

Although travellers in the United States have used planes as "air buses" for years, it is a novel idea in Wales.

Small 12 and 24-seater planes could effectively become the future of air travel within Wales, creating quick and easy access to areas ill-served by road links.

Aberporth businessman Ray Mann said there is great potential for developing a regional airport, which could be backed up by a business park next door.

"We are an ideal development opportunity. This gives Wales an opportunity to be better connected."

But Aberporth resident Mair Davies is among those residents who have concerns about the expansion of the local airport.

"It will destroy the peace and tranquillity of the area. It is very peaceful at the moment."

Ray Mann, Aberporth businessman
Ray Mann: 'Huge opportunity'

Sara Hopkins, director of Air Wales, has set her own company's sights, though, beyond Wales.

"Look at Scotland, with Glasgow and Edinburgh, which are both thriving airports.

"There is a huge market for Swansea. It will never be a Cardiff, but with city breaks, Paris, Amsterdam, London and Brussels. Within Europe you can go wherever you want to from Swansea."

Martin Shrewsbury of the Green Party said the UK Government still does not have the balance right.

"We know that more 70% of journeys made are under 1,000km. We could communicate better using video conferencing. We have to look at a long-term solution."

Merger

Swansea Airport was bought last month for an undisclosed sum by local entrepreneur Roy Thomas, chairman and owner of the Cardiff-based airline.

The company now is moving its base from Cardiff International Airport to Swansea, although passengers are being assured flights from Cardiff will still take place.

A number of jobs are expected to be created as a result of the merger.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales' Sian Lloyd
"The main proposal for Wales is to improve terminal facilities at Cardiff airport"

More from south west Wales

More from south east Wales
See also:

09 Nov 02 | Wales
05 Mar 02 | Wales
31 Aug 01 | Wales
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