Low-cost airline RYANAIR has announced a 50% cut in its winter flights departing from Cardiff Airport, sparking concerns among local stakeholders. It is worth noting that the Cardiff to Belfast route, launched in spring, will remain inactive throughout the winter season.
The airline cited changing passenger preferences and noted: “Most people are willing to fly to Bristol.”
The latest data shows the airline will operate from Rhoose at reduced capacity this winter compared to last year. In particular, services to Belfast International will end on November 5.
Commenting on the decision, a Ryanair representative noted: “While the number of departures from Cardiff has decreased by 50% compared to last year, our observations indicate an increasing tendency for travelers to choose Bristol. The city offers plenty of attractions and we are happy that our base is developing there.”
Meanwhile, travelers to Northern Ireland can continue to use Emerald Airlines, which offers flights from Cardiff to Belfast City Airport five days a week, courtesy of its partnership with Aer Lingus.
While Ryanair’s Cardiff to Dublin service remains open, there are no flights to popular destinations such as Malaga and Faro in the winter timetable. Confirming this, Ryanair said: “In line with our standard practice, the winter season starting in late October features a streamlined flight schedule to Cardiff. However, we continue to serve our customers in Wales on our highly preferred Dublin route, available four times a week.
In contrast, Ryanair has announced a major expansion at Bristol Airport, introducing two new routes to Porto and Venice, while increasing frequencies on ten existing routes, including Alicante, Budapest and Malaga. As part of this expansion, a modern aircraft will be added to the existing fleet at Bristol for winter 23/24, bringing the total number of aircraft to five. According to Ryanair, the decision represents a $500 million investment that could create more than 1,700 local jobs, including 30 new positions for pilots and cabin crew.
Discussing the development, a Ryanair spokesman said: “Our expansion into the South West, accompanied by new jobs, is testament to our enduring alliance with Bristol Airport. The inclusion of new routes such as Porto and Venice is based on changing passenger needs.”
However, the decision was not free from political comments. The Welsh Conservative shadow transport minister, Natasha Asghar MS, expressed her concerns, stating: The relocation of Ryanair’s operations from Cardiff is alarming. The Welsh Government must reconsider its ownership of the airport and consider taking it over to the private sector. Labour’s £250m investment in Cardiff Airport, despite its declining attractiveness to airlines, shows a pattern of ill-advised ventures.”
Reiterating its position, a Welsh Government spokesman said: “Our commitment to maintaining the airport in Wales is unwavering given the economic benefits it offers.”
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