THE news that FlyBe are to open base at Cardiff Airport is the latest sign of progress at the Welsh hub, two years down the line since the Welsh Government bought the airport for £52m.

As Europe's largest regional airline, they're not going to make a move like this without confidence the tide has turned at the once ailing airport.

The airline's chief executive, Saad Hammad, said he was aiming was to get 400,000 passengers flying out of Cardiff annually.

The airline is introducing 11 new routes from Cardiff, including to Munich, Paris and Milan.

The FlyBe boss made a good point when he said Wales should have powers over air passenger duty as Scotland and Northern Ireland are to have. If the Welsh Government are to produce a successful airport, this lever would be a useful one to have at hand.

There have been other coups since the takeover. Irish budget airline Ryanair returned to Cardiff after an eight-year gap when it started flying a weekly route to Tenerife last October.

The worldwide exposure during the Nato summit as world leaders jetted in boosted its global profile.

However, there have been criticisms. In a Senedd debate on the airport in February, Tory AM Byron Davies said there had been "no significant improvement" in the number of passengers travelling through Cardiff Airport since the Welsh government took ownership of it. The Welsh Tories have also called for the value of Cardiff Airport to be made public.

There was some disbelief originally at the Welsh Government's move to buy the airport, and it still clearly rankles with some, but there are examples of airports in public hands that have thrived.

The UK's third-biggest airport, Manchester is run by the Manchester Airports Group (MAG) which in turn is owned by the ten metropolitan borough councils of Greater Manchester.

Slowly but surely it seems this is the direction Cardiff is turning.