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Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 10:17 GMT
BA withdraws from Cardiff
A British Airways passenger jet takes off from Cardiff International Airport
Departures: British Airways is a major operator at Cardiff
British Airways has announced it is withdrawing all its flight operations from Cardiff International Airport.

The move is part of a comprehensive review by BA of its CitiExpress routes.

British Airways is one of the main operators from the airport, but the company said its decision to withdraw will have no impact on BA aircraft maintenance work in south Wales.

British Airways flights from Cardiff withdrawn:
Cardiff to Brussels
Cardiff to Belfast
Cardiff to Aberdeen
Cardiff to Paris
Cardiff to Jersey

Forty-six flights a week - to Brussels, Paris, Jersey, Aberdeen and Belfast - will be cut from Cardiff affecting a total of 71 staff as part of streamlining to 21 BA air routes across the UK.

Budget airline Bmibaby recently set up at Cardiff airport, flying to routes across the UK and Europe, and added three additional routes earlier this month.

BA general manager David Evans told BBC Radio Wales the withdrawal was nothing to do with the fresh competition from Bmibaby.

"The announcement is all about strengthening and simplifying our UK network.

"We are looking at the business where we see there are opportunities.

David Evans, British Airways' UK head of business
David Evans: Flights are to continue from Bristol and Birmingham airports

He added: "We compete vigorously with airports right across our network. At Cardiff and Bristol, competition is part and parcel of our daily life."

Tony Davis, managing director of bmibaby, said his company was "totally committed" to developing its Cardiff airport operations.

"We have already announced a major expansion of routes for next summer, designed to firmly establish Cardiff Airport within the European air transport network.

"The addition of further bmibaby aircraft at Cardiff will create more jobs.

"We are also actively looking at adding further routes to our existing network from Cardiff including Paris, which has been dropped by BA."

Vale of Glamorgan MP John Smith said the news was "very disappointing".

Cardiff airport, departures board
The news is a blow to expansion plans

"BA's decision to walk away from Cardiff International Airport instead of meeting the challenge presented by the low cost operators, is a big mistake.

"All the experts are saying that future growth in air travel will come from regional airports.

"Cardiff International Airport is very well placed to meet those demands."

Dr Phil Williams, Plaid Cymru's spokesman, said the news was a "blow" to Cardiff.

"The city is a European capital," he said.

"British Airways is a major carrier which is looking at Cardiff as a marginal or peripheral airport."


But the Welsh Assembly Government's Business Minister Carwyn Jones said that companies have already begun expressing an interest in taking over the routes vacated by British Airways.

Mr Jones said that BMI Baby and Air Wales had announced their interest in adding the BA routes to its schedules.

He said BA's level of services from Cardiff had been dwindling "for years" and that the firm had pulled out of Cardiff before and the airport had continued to go from "strength to strength".

In an earlier statement, Mr Evans said he hoped the impact on jobs would be "minimal".

"The proposed withdrawal of all services from Cardiff and Leeds-Bradford has been a tough decision to take but it was crucial to underpin the rest of the operation as we move forward," he said.

Earlier this month, a consultation report on expanding Cardiff International Airport to carry up to 9m passengers a year was published by the UK Government.

The report linked the growth of the airport with the economic well-being of Wales and also looked at the potential spin-offs for a network of smaller airports around the county.

British Airways' business boss, David Evans
"All of the services we're suspending from Cardiff will continue to be flown from both Bristol and Birmingham."

More from south east Wales
See also:

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