South East Wales

Cardiff Airport passengers up 9% since Welsh government takeover

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Media captionBy the end of March, managers hope to break the one million passenger mark

Cardiff Airport has seen a 9% increase in the number of its passengers since it was taken over by the Welsh government last year, it has been revealed.

Ministers bought the facility in March 2013 for £52m amid concerns about investment by its then Spanish owners.

Since May 2013, the business has seen 10 months of continuous growth.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said it proved "naysayers" wrong and showed the airport is in "the right hands".

By the end of March, managers hope to break the one million passenger mark for the financial year.

In total, passenger numbers between May to February represents an increase of 10.6% on the same period the previous year.

The positive passenger figures come as the airport undergoes refurbishment of its terminal building, including changes to the to the check-in hall and security area.

The Welsh government has given the airport a £10m loan repayable over a 12 year period for renovations.

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Media captionFirst Minister Carwyn Jones gave his reaction at his monthly news conference

Speaking at his monthly news conference, Carwyn Jones said: "It shows for all the naysayers who thought that somehow the airport was bound to decline... well now we see the passenger figures".

He said it "confirms that the airport does have a future in the right hands".

New routes and carriers have been added recently including Cityjet flying to Glasgow and Paris.

CityJet is also starting routes to Edinburgh and Jersey this month and said it may look to expand services in future.

The airline, a partner of Air France and KLM, started to fly from Cardiff in January after Flybe dropped its routes.

During the 12 months to March 2013, 997,000 passengers used the airport. For the year to the end of this month, the airport is expecting to handle 1,080,000 passengers.

Jon Horne, Cardiff Airport's chief executive, said: "It is a solid start to the work that needs to be done to deliver continued growth over the coming years.

"The past year has seen lots of change for the better, resulting in an upturn in passenger numbers that began within just six weeks of acquisition by the Welsh government.

"More capacity and new services have contributed to the 10 months' consecutive growth the airport has reported.

"There's much more to be done, but I'm confident we're on the right track with a strong team in place, committed to delivering on our growth strategy."

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