Anglesey Cardiff Flight Subsidy Good Value
by John Roberts
The new air link between Cardiff and RAF Valley on Anglesey operated by highland Airways is costing the taxpayer about £84 per passenger, according to figures released by the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG).
This is based on a WAG three year subsidy of £2.4m aimed at meeting the growing demand from both business and leisure markets in Wales.
The air link is considered as a vital catalyst in encouraging economic growth in North West Wales.
Fares range between £20 and £50 for each hour long, one way flight, and the £84 subsidy is roughly twice the average fare.
Figures show that up to the end of April 2008 there were 14,130 passenger journeys, and there was roughly a 20% unoccupied seat rate.
While these Anglesey Cardiff flights clearly narrow the north-south divide, there are questions being raised as to whether the air link subsidy is “excessive” given its environmental impact.
Gordon James of Friends of the Earth believes the subsidy should not be available given the now apparent success of the new venture.
The environmental pressure group would prefer to see the subsidy supporting the north-south rail service between Holyhead and Cardiff, which it believes needs improving.
Mr James compared the £84 WAG subsidy paid to Highland Airways with the equivalent of £6.30 per passenger using the Holyhead-Cardiff Arriva Trains Wales (ATW) service.
Highland Airways spokesman Colin Munro said the subsidy for the Anglesey Cardiff flight was “fantastic value”.
Mr Munro thinks road, rail and bus subsidies are “huge by comparison” with the Cardiff Anglesey air service.
He points out that the Anglesey Cardiff flight means some people from the island are making their first trip to the Welsh capital.
And going in the opposite direction, Cardiff solicitors Hugh Jones praises the efficient air link.
Employee David Roberts points out how they can complete a day’s work in North Wales and get the late afternoon return flight to Cardiff.
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