Cardiff airport plans 'too risky' - Lib Dem AM
8:30pm Tuesday 15th January 2013 in News
PLANS to bring Cardiff Airport back into public ownership are too risky, a Liberal Democrat AM has argued.
The Welsh Government is believed to be edging closer to a deal with current owners TBI after the airport was assessed by an independent valuator last week.
First Minister Carwyn Jones has repeatedly stressed the scheme is not a "vanity project’’ and its re-nationalisation would safeguard its long-term future.
But South Wales Central AM Eluned Parrott said she cannot make up her mind whether the government's plans were "genius or idiotic’’.
She said: "It might be the best thing that the government has done - but the risk to the taxpayer is massive.
Cardiff Airport has seen a decline in passenger numbers in the past five years.
In 2011, passenger numbers had slumped 13% on the previous year to little over 1.2 million - compared with the 5.7 million figure of its nearest rival Bristol Airport.
Last year, First Minister Mr Jones came under fire from opposition parties after sharply criticising the airport and claiming it was not being run properly.
But just before Christmas, his government suddenly announced it was looking to buy the facility.
Lib Dem Miss Parrott said: "I don't really have a problem with the purchase of the airport provided the government knows why they are doing it and they have a clue of what they intend to do.
"At the moment, I have no sense that any of that is true.’’ But the Welsh Government has stuck to its guns - saying its plan to buy the airport and then lease it out to a commercial operator would be a good deal.
During his monthly press conference yesterday, First Minister Mr Jones again stressed his government would not subsidise any losses that the government made.
And he balked at claims that a business case should be finished before the due diligence process came to an end - saying the Lib Dems did not have a clue about how big business deals were conducted.