Wales politics

Cardiff Airport long-haul flights plan is rejected by commission

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Media captionThe UK government said Cardiff is not included in plans to increase Britain's airport capacity

Expanding Cardiff Airport will not help reduce future demands on flights from London, a commission has concluded.

Welsh transport experts and business leaders had submitted plans for the airport to become an international hub.

The Airports Commission interim report says there is "little scope" to move increasing demand away from London and south east England to other locations.

The commission, investigating options for expanding UK airport capacity, is led by businessman Sir Howard Davies.

The hub proposal for Cardiff airport, called the Western Gateway Project, involved transferring passengers between Cardiff and London within an hour via high speed rail.

It hoped to attract hub and direct flights to global destinations such as North and Latin America and estimated it would require investment of £250m.

The Airports Commission predicts demands on the London airports will continue to grow but suggests that once airports reach capacity, as Heathrow has and Gatwick almost has, people choose not to fly rather than use alternative airports.

While the commission will not release its final report until the summer of 2015, its three short-listed options are adding a third runway at Heathrow, lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow and building a new runway at Gatwick.

Distort competition

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Media captionMartin Evans said the proposals fail to tackle the issue of airport capacity for the whole of the UK

But Professor Brian Morgan, part of the Western Gateway Project, told BBC Radio Wales he thought Cardiff could still have a future role in relieving pressure on Heathrow Airport.

"If there is some expansion at Heathrow, there will still be a need, I think, to avoid a lot of the stacking that goes on at Heathrow, there will still be a capacity problem at Heathrow, a noise problem at Heathrow, of course," he said.

"So, they will be looking at some form, I think, of regional expansion over the next 20 years and Cardiff is well placed to help with that problem.

The commission also rejected the devolution of Air Passenger Duty (APD), which was recommended by the Silk Commission into more powers for the assembly.

It was argued that this would allow APD to be cut in Wales to attract transatlantic flights to Cardiff.

The Airports Commission says this would distort competition between Cardiff and Bristol.

Last week it was announced Cardiff Airport, now owned by the Welsh government, is to receive a £10m loan from ministers to make improvements to its site.

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