Our satirical writer Edwin Phillips reads a Bank Holiday press release from Cardiff Airport after revelations on The Eye that mainstream media outlets and politicians are finally now warning that the future looks bleak for the airport, when journalists on the website have been reporting these difficulties for MONTHS, and questioned celebrations that it had linked-up with a state-run airline where the country stood accused of supporting terrorism, as well as a budget operator.
DEPARTURE TIME: NOW IN A MINUTE
From: Cardiff Regional Airport Public relations (CRAP)
To: All Regional Staff Editorial (ARSE)
Welsh journalists (other than those on the irritating website The Eye) are to be congratulated this New Year for reporting with enthusiasm, our recent associations with a state-run airline where the country is accused of supporting terrorism, and a budget Hungarian airline which is not now coming to Cardiff Airport (CA).
We also offer CRAP commendations for ignoring scurrilous reports in other parts of the UK media, as well as from senior politicians that we are about to go under.
Reports of our death have (as the saying goes) been greatly exaggerated.
This puts in context, the recent item on UK Aviation News that: “The future of Cardiff Airport (CWL/EGFF) has been thrown into doubt today following comments made by the Welsh Labour-controlled Government that owns the airport”.
It is obvious to CRAP that such articles completely misrepresent announcements from political figures, like the Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters, MS, who said to politicians in the Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru (WP/SC): “I don’t think that subsidising and encouraging domestic air travel is in keeping with the challenge of climate change that we have and that the Prime Minister is trying to claim great international leadership on; I think it is a contradiction”.
This misunderstanding is not confined to Labour politicians either, because the Conservative Deputy Minister for Transport Natasha Asghar, MS said: “The minister’s comments were somewhat surprising given the number of taxpayer handouts Cardiff Airport has received since being taken into public ownership eight years ago by Labour.
“It is a little hypocritical of Labour to say subsidising air travel is a bad thing, when they’ve pumped in hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer cash, and continue to do so, into their failed vanity project.
“If Labour ministers are planning to stop subsidising Cardiff Airport because it flies in the face of climate change, then it raises some serious questions over its future.
“I have no doubt that Cardiff Airport could become a thriving transport hub but after this latest intervention its future is now hanging by a thread”.
Ms Asghar’s comments unfortunately reflect the fact that CA was bought by the Welsh Government (WG) in 2013 for the very reasonable price of £52 million, while we at CRAP now understand the Scottish Government (SG) purchased Glasgow Prestwick Airport (GPA) for £1.
It should be noted by all journalists, that the valuation of CA in March was a mighty £15 million.
Since our widely-admired acquisition, the WG has also provided over £130 million in support for us in the form of loans and equity investment, showing just how much ministers value us being in the public sphere.
We at CRAP are pleased to report, as well, that there has been around £3 million in subsidies, too, for the crucial Cardiff to Anglesey air link and incentives to airlines, some of which, sadly, ended up pulling out as soon as the money stopped.
Showing how important we are, in December 2012, the First Minister of Wales (FMW) at the time, Carwyn Jones, said when we were about to be bought, that this vital purchase should make a “return to the Welsh taxpayer”. Plaid Cymru (PC) welcomed the announcement as well, and declared that CA needed to be a “shop front” for Wales, but the Conservatives (C) regrettably demanded evidence that nationalisation would provide value, and the Liberal Democrats (LD) warned it would become a “money pit” for public funds.
Even as this money was justifiably spent on our operations, we unfortunately remained at the bottom of the league table, when passenger numbers at CA went down by 87 per cent in 2020, with the number of travellers falling from 1,656,085 in 2019 to just 219,984 two years ago, while, for example, Southampton Airport witnessed an 83.4 per cent decline, London City Airport saw a drop of 82.3 percent in passenger figures, and numbers at Leeds-Bradford Airport went down by 81.2 per cent.
The Chief Executive of CA, Spencer Birns, rightly, blamed the WG, when he told a committee at the WP/SC: “There was more traffic handling at other airports than there was at Cardiff, but then don’t forget we’ve been in a position in Wales where, and quite rightly so, the government have been so heavily focused on the health of the nation, that actually encouraging people not to travel overseas has been a major factor in the Welsh government’s approach”.
Meanwhile, sadly in stark contrast to the fanfare from senior officials, politicians, and the mainstream media in Wales when a link-up was announced between us and the state-run Qatar Airways (QA), Mr Waters acknowledged that providing incentives to airlines, as has been done with QA was against climate change policies.
The headline-grabbing news of the original association, correctly ignored the fact that the UK Government warned potential travellers to Qatar that they faced major risks, and it stated on its advice website: “Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Qatar“.
We at CRAP have been told that eight sovereign nations around the world have severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and in July 2017 it was reported that the state had been cut off by some of its neighbours over the alleged terrorist support.
Yet praise was showered on this farsighted association with QA, and our Chief Executive at the time, Deb Bowen Rees, told the South Wales Echo (SWE): “The Qatar Airways service has been transformational…”.
In interviews, Mr Jones (First Minister of Wales [FMW] when it was announced) stated: “We would like to work with his excellency (Akbar al Baker the Chief Executive of QA)“, and he tweeted that he “welcomed” the first QA flight into CA and said it represented a “huge boost” for Wales.
The then Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns informed the public: “The new flight from Cardiff to Doha plugs our entrepreneurs straight into one of the most dynamic economies in the Middle East, and an airport which offers a further 150 global destinations”.
As well as this service (which has now unfortunately been ‘postponed’), we have put CRAP faith in attracting budget airlines.
However we are informed that a significant number of grievances on social media followed the announcement from the budget airline Wizz Air (WA) that it will not, in fact, fly from CA until at least the end of this year, and executives there naturally blamed that decision on pandemic restrictions.
The backdrop for the transformational initial news about WA flying from CA was the acclamation (as with the link-up with QA) it received from journalists in the Welsh mainstream media (it had been described as a ‘British’ airline in the South Wales Echo [SWE], and it IS London-listed, although eastern Europe-focused, and WalesOnline appeared to have reverted to ‘Hungarian’ in a more recent report about it postponing the flight).
Yet unhappily this postponement decision has seemingly not always been welcomed, with one traveller saying recently on Facebook (FB): “Just had our (WA) flights for Sep 2021 cancelled…”. Another passenger wrote: “Cardiff seems doomed ,gutting , the Welsh government needs to help but it won’t, very sad.” A further unnecessary complainant said: “Drakeford’s (FMW) running CWL (the international code for CA) into the ground”.
This came as the Irish firm Stobart Air (SA) correctly appointed a liquidator, and the announcement that it was ceasing trading came hard on the heels of it revealing on May 5 two new routes to Dublin and Belfast, which were to begin from CA last summer.
Issues such as these have rightly been overlooked by journalists in the Welsh mainstream media, and we at CRAP congratulate you for that – as well as for disregarding reports in other parts of the media, and from politicians, that our days are numbered.
Tomorrow – why more disturbing information has been sent to us about the activities of a South Wales conman exclusively exposed by The Eye, who has spent years in jail and had his legs broken when a drugs deal soured.
Details of our Editor Phil Parry’s astonishing award-winning journalistic career (including being the first to reveal disturbing facts) as he was gripped by the rare neurological condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!
Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.