Rising cost of north-south air link subsidy revealed

A Freedom of Information Request by the Welsh Conservatives has revealed the growing cost of the North-South air link between Cardiff and Anglesey.

The route is heavily subsidised by the Welsh Government, and is a legacy of the Labour/Plaid coalition during the third assembly when it was set up by former Deputy First Minister Iuean Wyn Jones.


Mockingly labelled ‘Iuean Air’, the route has absorbed millions of pounds since it was established – despite being used by fewer than 10,000 passengers a year.


In 2015/16 the subsidy rose to £109.53 per person, from £86.07 (+27%). Whilst passenger numbers rose by just 2.6% over the same period.


2014/15: £838,040.31 [9,737 passengers]


2015/16: £1,094,216.39 [9,990 passengers]


Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport, Russell George, said:


“The amount of money being thrown at this service is starting to raise serious questions, not least because passenger growth is being steadily outstripped by the rising cost of the subsidy.


“Last year the Welsh Government’s contribution to the air link’s running costs was £110 per person, which is more than the cost of a return ticket, and whilst that subsidy was up 27%, passenger numbers grew by just 2.6%.


“The Welsh Government needs to undertake an urgent review of this service, including its cost and the route itself, to determine ways to make the service more cost-effective and viable in the long term.


“Sadly, however, confidence in the Welsh Government’s ability to manage the service is at an all-time low.


“First the airline lost its safety certificate, unbeknownst to the minister. Then the route was suspended again, despite more than a million pounds a year having been pumped into it.”


Aberconwy AM, Janet Finch-Saunders, added:


“We need to look at making this link more attractive to tourists and casual travellers, and not just civil servants, and the Welsh Government will need to look at ways of offering an air link which runs seven days a week.


“The current timetable is too restrictive and makes it far too difficult for weekend trips and if this could be addressed then we could expect to see a significant uplift in interest.


“Clearly, however, limitations at Valley Airport make that impossible at present and that obstacle would need to be overcome.”

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Team @ AberdareOnline

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