Cardiff Airport's long-haul flights aim

Cardiff Airport Image copyright Cardiff Airport
Image caption Cardiff Airport's terminal building in Rhoose has been refurbished

Attracting long-haul flights to Cardiff Airport is one of the aims for its bosses in the year ahead in a bid to boost passenger numbers.

The airport was bought by the Welsh government nearly two years ago after the number of people using it slumped to just over one million.

Since then the terminal building, its facilities, technology and transport links have been improved.

Now bosses are focusing on attracting more flights to more destinations.

In November the airport received a £3.5m commercial loan from the Welsh government to develop more routes and "improve choice for passengers".

'Strong brand'

Jason Thomas, chief of staff at Cardiff Airport, said they hoped to build on the recent announcement that Thomas Cook Airlines would fly from Cardiff to Orlando in Florida in August 2015 and in May the following year.

"Long-haul is one of the areas of focus for us," said Mr Thomas.

"We do have fantastic facilities for long-haul. We have a runway that can accommodate all types of aircraft.

"Wales is also a very strong brand overseas. We have to see inbound routes on these flights too and Wales is in a very good position for that."

He said he could not go into details about the routes and destinations being considered but added: "We're confident that there will be some announcements in the near future."

Image copyright Cardiff Airport

How the airport has been improved

  • Launch of the airport express bus, T9, which runs between Cardiff city centre and the airport every 20 minutes in summer and every 30 minutes in winter
  • A much bigger security zone, where passengers go through to departures. It also has state-of-the-art facilities
  • Investment in a new carousel system to speed up baggage collection
  • Introduction of free baggage trolleys, free wi-fi and a free drop-off zone directly outside the main terminal building
  • A new cafe - Caffi Cwtch
  • An improved "walk through" duty free shopping area, along with a fresh look for its executive lounge
  • Improvements to its car parks

He said staff were feeling "really positive going into the new year" after spending the last 18 months stopping the decline of passengers and improving the airport.

"The main thing for the airport is passenger numbers so our focus for the next 12 months - and we know it will be challenging - is to get more airlines and to help grow our existing airlines, who are our lifeblood."

The Welsh government bought Cardiff Airport in a a £52m deal in March 2013, saying it would not be operated by the government and would be managed "at arm's length" and "on a commercial basis".

In November, a Welsh government spokesman said the commercial loan of £3.5m to Cardiff Airport for the development of more routes "will be repaid over a period of up to 12 years".

Image copyright Cardiff Airport
Image caption The duty free shopping area of the airport has also been improved

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