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Last Updated: Monday, 19 July, 2004, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Air Wales pulls out of Swansea
Roy Thomas
Chairman Roy Thomas 'heavily subsidised' flights from Swansea
Air Wales is to pull out of Swansea Airport from the autumn, saying the service is no longer viable.

Staff were told that up to 20 jobs will go and cheap flights to European cities such as Amsterdam and Dublin from Swansea will end in October.

The airline will concentrate its services on Cardiff instead.

Swansea Council, which owns the city's airport, said it was a "sad day" but that it understood Air Wales' decision.

Air Wales was set up in 1999 with the assistance of Swansea businessman Roy Thomas and was initially based at Pembrey in west Wales.

The company said Mr Thomas had "heavily subsidised" the operation from Swansea.

Air Wales, which had been based there since October 2001, had already cut back on its operations earlier this year reducing its flights in and out of the city.

It needed around 1,000 or so people a week to use the service just to break even, but it is understood, far fewer passengers that that were using the service.

A spokesman said: "The numbers were just not viable. It seems clear that Cardiff will now be the focus for Air Wales in future."

Air Wales expects 20 of the 30 staff at the airport will lose their jobs and workers have been offered voluntary redundancy.

Air Wales plane
Air Wales say it will concentrate on expanding domestic routes

The company is also setting up a new Cardiff headquarters, which will become the base for its operations and engineering work.

Flights from Cardiff to Newcastle, Plymouth and Jersey, Glasgow and Cork will carry on, as will services to London, Dublin and Amsterdam.

The airline said three new routes will be announced at the end of the summer.

An airport spokesman said: "Despite the huge levels of investment injected into the infrastructure at Swansea Airport and the subsidising of flights by airline and airport owner Roy Thomas, the number of passengers using Air Wales at Swansea Airport does not justify the continued operation of the airline from Swansea.

"Every effort has been made to provide Swansea with the opportunity of having flights to UK and European destinations, but unfortunately, without passenger support, the service is simply not viable."

Regional airport network

The spokesman said it was "a sad day for Swansea" but the airport "will remain open for general aviation and emergency services and general improvements will continue to be made at the airport".

In a statement Swansea Council said:" In some respects the idea may have been ahead of its time in that other countries, such has France, have a thriving, highly-developed regional airport network serving cities the size of Swansea."

"Swansea Airport is owned by Swansea Council and has been leased to Swansea Airport Ltd for a period of 99 years," the statement continued.

"Swansea Airport Ltd has said that it will continue to operate the airport for commercial aviation activities."


SEE ALSO:
Airline scraps Brussels route
05 Apr 04  |  South East Wales
Air Wales drops Liverpool flight
20 Jan 04  |  South East Wales
New flights for Air Wales
17 Nov 03  |  Wales


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