Cardiff Airport buy-up blasted as too risky by concerned AM
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 Abertis 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".
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She said: "It might be the best thing that the Government has done but the risk to the taxpayer is massive.
"There is so much uncertainty and a lack of information that I can't be confident in it."
Cardiff Airport, which is closer to seaside town Barry than the Welsh capital, has seen a decline in passenger numbers in the past five years.
In 2011, passenger numbers had slumped 13 per cent 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.
The decision has prompted repeated questions from Labour's political rivals about whether it would use of taxpayers' money, especially the stuttering economy.
Lib Dem Miss Parrott raised the issue during her party's weekly press conference in the Senedd yesterday.
She said: "It is going to be really difficult for the Welsh Government to develop credibility around the airport.
"Even if they get the best management company in the world to run it, because they spent so much time running the place down — saying how difficult it is to get there and saying how it is a terrible airport. I don't have a problem with the purchase provided the Government knows why they are doing it and they have a clue of what they intend to do."